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Ornithopters - a technical correction

 I've been on this list for years and so far nothing has come up that I knew
 about until now...
 Forwarded message:
 > Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 21:53:40 PDT
 > From: "Barry Kazmer" <kazmer@hotmail.com>
 > Subject: Ornithopter
 > I see the term Ornithopter has reared its ugly head again. 
 > Those of us that have a strong interest in the history of 
 > aviation are very familiar with Ornithopters.It is a 
 > FAILED flying machine from the 1920's.
 Ornithopters have been around for over 2,000 years. Ornithopters are *NOT*
 failed machines. There have literaly been hundreds of ornithopters built
 which worked, unfortunately they have all been models. There simply has not
 been a technology available out of which to build a man-sized working model.
 > It had an 
 > airplanes' fuselage and a large series of whirling 
 > circular banded blades that pumped up and down vigorously 
 > while spinning and the whole result was the air (?) craft 
 > hopped in place before falling into many pieces. How did 
 > this term come to mean Flight of any kind? What was wrong 
 > with flying or powered flight? Eschew obfuscation!
 Actualy what you describe is NOT an ornithopter, as far as I am aware it has
 no particular name.
 A TRUE ornithopter has two wings, one on each side of a fuselage. Each wing
 beats up and down during a cyclic movement that also moves the wings
 front-to-back-to-front. The actual motion is quite similiar to a
 breast-stroke in swimming.
 The problem has been historicaly that when you get them up bigger than about
 1/4 scale you can't beat the wings fast enough that the torque doesn't
 destroy the material the wing is made out of. There is NOTHING in
 aerodynamics which says an ornithopter can't fly, obviously somethings like
 birds use this technique to good effect. Course there might be a lesson in
 the fact that the largest flying birds are no bigger than about 1/4
 full-grown human mass.
 Stick to dinosaurs.
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