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

For photo's and background information, please consult my projectwebsite: Website:

YouTube channel: Twitter:

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  • Developer

    That tiny piece of cloth between his legs that is supposed to be the H&V stabilization is hilarious..

  • It's far more compact than an ultralight & probably cheaper.  For such a practical invention, the trick is now combining the knowledge of how to build it with knowledge to mass produce it & to advertize it or we're really going to be stuck with ultralights.

    Of course, the technology still doesn't exist to get a high quality video & the Americans are completely non believing such a thing is possible.

  • By the way, even with my 250cc, two stroke twin cylinder paramotor I'd have a hard time matching his 0 wind takeoff performance.

  • What about flight controls?  The guy is simply flapping his arms up and is he controlling pitch and roll?  Ever heard of Nessie?  The guy should have dressed up as a pterodactyl or something would have made the hoax even better ;o)  Cheers

  • The motion control could be done with some IMU 3's, but I have doubts about the full size mechanics of the thing.

  • he cant be possibly flying without redbull ;)

    @jasonshort   most commentors on wired, techcrunch and here are not gullible. only the journalists are taken by the story.

    but we have give credit to a well planned hoax. multi month build thread, discusions about test site selections, videos with working parts, etc etc

  • this will be EPIC either win or fail

  • Developer

    Jason: But they are brushless outrunners.... its like a flux capacitor... dont ask questions.

  • Weight, Weather, Density altitude maybe this can happen without a tail. Tale?

  • Video and flying aside, I got this video in an email several months ago.

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