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About this Site
the Ornithopter Zone
Zone is the web site of the Ornithopter Society. Patrick Deshaye
started the Ornithopter Society, in 1984, to help bring together
what little was known at the time about ornithopters. Deshaye managed
to locate seven people in the US and UK who shared his passion for
flapping wings. He began publishing a newsletter, which allowed
us to share ideas and help each other uncover the mysteries of flapping
wing flight. In a short time, the Ornithopter Society grew to over
a hundred members.
In 1992, Nathan
Chronister took over as president, in order to continue the society's
mission of keeping people connected, and pulling together the scattered
information on flapping wings. During
this period, we had the pleasure of hearing from people all over
the world about their own activities, and often, about discoveries
from the historical archives. We learned about Percival Spencer's
engine-powered ornithopters, and later we learned about the amazing
ornithopter research conducted in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.
Before this, we were all in a race to build the first engine-powered
ornithopter. We were really surprised to find out it had already
been done! If
it had not been for the activities of the Ornithopter Society, we
would not have any where near the full picture of ornithopter history
that we have now.
Society also aims to help new beginners get started in building
their own ornithopters. In 1993, we introduced a new ornithopter
design, called the "Freebird", which was available in
the form of free plans. The Freebird was designed to be as simple
and as easy to build as possible. It has given thousands of people
the opportunity to learn how to build their own ornithopters. A
biplane version of the Freebird established a simple mechanism for
flapping four wings and provided the basis for many of the micro
air vehicles that proliferated in the past decade. Now you can buy
a simple kit based on the Freebird design, which makes it ever easier
to get started with flapping wings.
Soon, the society's
efforts to raise awareness about ornithopters were really having
an effect. Several hobbyists were able to move beyond the traditional
rubber band power, and finally developed their own electric ornithopters.
Universities were taking a great interest in ornithopter research.
Toy companies began to produce some small radio-controlled toy ornithopters.
This introduced a whole new generation to the idea of mechanical
flapping wings, but it also heightened the need for education.
to the internet, we no longer have a shortage of information on
ornithopters. However, the public can be easily misled by "do
it yourself" ornithopter plans that don't fly, or the false,
self-promoting claims made by some researchers. The Ornithopter
Society is needed now more than ever, to provide a trusted resource
for those who want to know the truth.
We hope you
will join the Ornithopter Society
to support the work we are doing, as well as to advance your own
activities in exploring the wonders of flapping-wing flight!