Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How To Build A Flying Ornithopter - A What??

    Yes, you read that correctly. An Ornithopter. It's a flying machine that flaps its wings to create lift and achieve flight. Rumor has it the first Ornithopters were put together in the 12th Century. However, the first real documented flight of a device that flew with the "flapping motion of a bird" was attributed to a bunch of French guys in the 1870s. The one I found is based upon a design from 1884. I stumbled upon it while shopping at a liquidator store. (Where else?) Turns out there are quite a few of these to be had at quite reasonable prices. When I purchased it, there was a doubt in my mind as to whether it would actually fly at all. After a bit of a tedious assembly process, I wound it up flew! Really, it did. It's the perfect rainy day RV time killer. And fun too.

The model I found is made by a company called, NPW. With a tiny bit of searching, they can be had for as little as 3.99 per kit. It includes the wooden pieces, plastic for the wings and tail, tape to attach everything together, the drive system and a tiny metal crank. It doesn't look like much before it's assembled, but, believe me, it goes together and looks cool when finished. I have to admit, getting the incredibly skinny tape lined up and stuck down to the wings and tail surfaces and the wooden pieces was a challenge. But it will all fit together properly with a bit of finagling! Once complete, wind it up just a bit and make sure it's solid and will flap its wings properly. I really enjoy things that fly. Heck, I even braved a snow and ice storm/blizzard to pick up a flying machine.

Ready To Fly!
Next step is to get it in the air. Depending on the size of your RV (and whether you have deep slides!) you may be able to try it out inside. It can be set up to do a couple of lazy circles about 6 feet around, or straight for about 15 feet. Well, that was the best I could do. I was just amazed that it flew at all! Very cool to watch it flap its wings to stay aloft. As a side note, I did see some of these online that were actually bird shaped, but I liked this one better. Made me feel like Leonardo DaVinci! The instructions said to wind the rubber band two knots over, but I couldn't get it to flap more than a couple of times until I wound it to the triple knot position. then it FLEW! Nicely!

If you find yourself stuck inside (and maybe have kids or grandkids with you), these small and easily storable kits may be just the ticket.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

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