Snowbird Flying Machine: How it works

By Peter Chubb - Sep 28, 2010

When doing a search for Snowbird on Google you will either get a bird come up, or an aerial display team. However, for those of you who do not know, this is also the name of the first aircraft to fly continuously by flapping it wings. The flight took place last month for a duration of 19.3 seconds, it does not seem much, but it shows that such a thing is now possible.

For years man has tried to fly just like a bird, there have been a number of attempts throughout the years to try to mimic how these fly, but with little success. Charles Q. Choi, from CSMonitor points out that trying to generate enough lift to fly has always been the main issue, so thought that he would explain how the Snowbird works.

The first that needs pointing out is its wingspan, almost as much as a 747, but much lighter. The aircraft has been made from a mixture of carbon fiber, balsa wood and basswood – not certain I would want to be flying in an oversized model aircraft.

So we now know that the most important aspects of the Snowbird for flight is wingspan and its weight – or rather lack of it. The craft is powered by the legs of the pilot, and for each stroke of the leg between 600 and 700 Watts of power is generated. The legs had to be used, as this is the strongest part of the body. We now wait to see if the Snowbird can fly even longer next time.

For more details on the Snowbird visit CSMonitor

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