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: 7666

Comment by Andreas on March 20, 2012 at 5:43pm

Real or fake?

I do wish it was true but the footage looks dodgy.

-Why are the guys running away from him before he starts to run? Not like he is going to explode or something.

-Flight looks very shaky from ground camera, but quite smooth from helmet camera.

-Bad place to fly (granted they document their hunt for a test place on their blog)

-Don't see any of the side camera people on the video.

Comment by Adam Rivera on March 20, 2012 at 5:53pm

Fake :-) Fun to watch though!

Comment by Anis Nielsen on March 20, 2012 at 6:05pm

i'd say fake;

The 2 windsurf sails are really poorly rigged ; and are also of a very old type of sails

Today windsurf/funboard sails are much more technologicaly advanced than that, equiped with cambers and really precisely cut to maximize portance, and it really nearly has the natural shape the wing of a bird.  .. these look really cheap and do not even feel like leaning against the apparent wind ;

There also something weird with the footage itself at the precise moment of takeoff, looks like really bad editing skills ^^

Comment by Anis Nielsen on March 20, 2012 at 6:08pm

yeah right Adam, i got it, looks like  those japanese godzilla movies of the 80's,  video scrapping style, overlay/cut and paste

Comment by Ellison Chan on March 20, 2012 at 6:18pm

Interesting.  There's a Wired Blog doing a bit of analysis on the feasibility:


Seems like the wing area is sufficiently sized for the wings to generate enough lift.

And you can see from this video, that his flapping mechanism actually works:

Comment by Ellison Chan on March 20, 2012 at 6:44pm

Even better video of the wing mechanism working:

Comment by Anis Nielsen on March 20, 2012 at 6:52pm

Mysterious . A classic 90% carbon windsurfing mast weights between 2 and 4+ kg , depending on the sail's size. You need two of them. then you need everything around to keep the sail rigid .. cambers, booms (heavy too)

Wing example : http://www.naishsails.com/2012/sails/force.html Look at the specs.;

all the need stuff around you can find info about it in other section of the site

I can tell that you need serious arm strength to flap 2 sails like that. Otherwise you would need a helper but that again adds more to overall weight, because that helper will have to flap really hard, hydrolic power style

Ellison, i bet you jump from a mountain you can probably glide down to the valley, provided you sustain the force needed to maintain your wings spread. But flapping on over that, i dont believe it, and i am a real optimist in general :)

Comment by Ellison Chan on March 20, 2012 at 6:56pm

Well, I'm not 100% convinced either.  But if it's real, I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the news, and science journals.

Comment by Anis Nielsen on March 20, 2012 at 7:04pm

Yup, we all want to see some successfull Icarus :)

Comment by Max Levine on March 20, 2012 at 7:08pm

Creating CG video like that is very hard, so I'd say there is no CG in it. But if he is actually flying... don't know... it can be crane set with some wires that been removed in post.


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