Dutch engineer is the first man in history to fly like a bird with self- built wings

The Hague, Netherlands, 20th March 2012


Dutch engineer is the first man in history to fly like a bird with self- built wings

Engineer Jarno Smeets (31) is the first man in history to have made a successful short flight with his self-built wings modeled on the movement and structure of real bird wings. Assisted by an electronic system of his own design, Smeets took off from the ground in a park in The Hague last sunday 18th of March 2012. The flight of an estimated hundred meters lasted about a minute, after which Smeets landed safely.

Until now people had assumed that it was impossible to fly with bird-like wings using human muscle power. Smeets designed his own system to solve this problem, using two Wii controllers, the accelerometers from a HTC Wildfire S smartphone and Turnigy motors. This combined mechanism provided Smeets with extra power to move his 17m2 wings and allowed him to move his arms freely without any risk of breaking them. The system is a wireless (haptic) concept. The wing itself was built out of a kite and carbon windsurf masts (as flightpins).

Human Bird Wings is an independent project initiated from the personal ambition and vision of Dutch engineer Jarno Smeets. “Ever since I was a little boy I have been inspired by pioneers like Otto Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci and also my own grandfather”. Six months ago Smeets started researching. Smeets has developed and realized his wings with support from an independent team assembled under the Human Bird Wings project, sharing his progress through a well documented blog and YouTube channel. He has offered his followers an open source concept in building bird wings. Aided by helpful suggestions of his audience he was able to successfully finish his bird wings concept.

With this project Smeets has proven that modern technology and robotica can create realistic futures from seemingly impossible engineering dreams to fly like a bird


If you'd like more information about the project or contact Jarno Smeets directly you can call this phonenumber +31 618369328 or send an e-mail to humanbirdwingsproject@gmail.com

For photo's and background information, please consult my projectwebsite: Website: http://www.humanbirdwings.net/press/

YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/jarnosmeets80 Twitter: www.twitter.com/jarnosmeets80

Views: 7561

Comment by John C. on March 21, 2012 at 11:12am

If you look at one of his earlier videos, he has a full cad drawing of the motors, gears etc...that is in theory crammed into the backpack device.  

Evidently his arms are just along for the ride, and to provide some kind of control authority.


I agree the drawing is not completely accurate with the 3 wires feeding the motor...but you can see more of what is supposed to make the thing work.

I'm not totally convinced.  For such a momentous occasion, you'd think they would have filmed it better.

But I also never imagined I could cram enough stuff into an easystar to fly 3D waypoints, or push straight vertical in FPV.

Comment by Adam Rivera on March 21, 2012 at 11:16am

Everyone wants to believe this is real... especially on this forum because we are all drawn to flight. It is not real though... I can't even believe what I am reading in these comments! People... they would not have filmed this with a handycam that conveniently goes blurry if this were real. That is a classic filming trick to cover up CG weirdness.

Comment by Jason Short on March 21, 2012 at 11:16am

You can see the grass at 1:54 in the flight video used as a convenient place to cut to the CG segment. Play it a few times, it's an obvious cut. During which this lame fool lurched out of camera frame.

Also this guy found a flaw in the CG model. 


And Chris, tell Rhett Allain he's a sucker.

Comment by Adam Rivera on March 21, 2012 at 11:17am

Why does the guy on the left who is running away look so unnatural? Because he is pretending to watch a grown man fly.

Comment by John Church on March 21, 2012 at 11:29am

If dragons could do it, why can't we?   ;)    :D   LOL!!!

Comment by Jason Short on March 21, 2012 at 11:39am


I love that people are so taken with the physics. Each wing is connected to the "wiggle drive" with 4 sheet metal screws into a 3/4 inch thick laminated aluminum plate. That's right 4 freakin' screws per wing. 


Comment by Ellison Chan on March 21, 2012 at 12:11pm

For those who think this is an OBVIOUS fake, think again.  Even the guys at ILM think that it was a good fake job.

Here's a follow up article at Gizmodo:


So much speculation, but no one has actually contacted Smeet to see what his reaction is to our disbelief.  I sent him and email.  

Comment by Wojciech on March 21, 2012 at 12:35pm

Flying Dutchman !

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on March 21, 2012 at 2:00pm

Actually this is energetically possible. There are capacitors stunning the pilot if he is flapping too slow. If he doesn't passes out, it works.

Comment by Cloud9Drones on March 21, 2012 at 2:05pm



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