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An ornithopter is a type of flying machine that attempts to fly by imitating the flapping of a bird's wings. It was first devised by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 1400s, and many others tried unsuccessfully during the 1800s to fly this type of aircraft.


J. Degan's ornithopter, 1812

J. Degan's ornithopter, 1812

Credits - Gary Bradshaw; To Fly Is Everything


Some ornithopters were propelled with oars; others used the arms and legs of the occupants for power. Some ornithopters were to be used with the aid of an inflated balloon. The word comes from the Greek words for bird and wing.


Edward Frost of Cambridgeshire, England,
Edward Frost of Cambridgeshire, England, constructed an ornithopter of willow, silk, and feathers in 1902. Frost was later president of the Royal Aeronautical Society.