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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  • Well at this point, unless he flies into my backyard, and I actually see him landing I won't believe that he's achieve the flight.

  • Flapping wings depend on body inertia to facilitate the "up" stroke. I like the comment about ducks. I expect there's a reason why we don't have flying birds the size of elephants. Scaling up from "bird size" is problematic. Some aspects will increase linearly, some in square proportion, some cubic.

    To do it without some ridiculously big forces, I'd go for an additional wing or two: glide on a wing or a pair of wings while lifting the other wing(s)

  • Oh, jasonshort already linked it

  • Update: Jamie Hyneman, from Mythbusters, weighs in with his opinion

  • I did a little internet search on the people involved (and I posted this on a couple of places as well):

    This guy Jarno Smeets made all his social networking accounts around the same time
    Youtube: 6th July
    Twitter: 6th July
    Facebook: 6th July
    first post on blog: 11th July.

    Then taking a look at the same for Floor Pietersen, a girl who appears in several of his videos:
    Flikr: October
    Youtube: 14th October
    Blogspot: October
    Twitter: 11th October,

    So yeah, I guess it's not unlikely that a someone goes and signs up for all the social networking sites around the same time, I guess that they SUDDENLY discovered all these social networking sites one day and decided to sign up for all of them, and all they ever post about are stuff related to the project.  But this is some pretty typical patterns for a professionally sponsored viral video campaign, where these people need to make false online identities to use for the project.

  • Fake!!

  • T3

    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.

  • Flying Dutchman !

  • 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.  

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