the Ornithopter Society
!n 1984, Patrick
Deshaye started the Ornithopter Society, 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
the small group 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 various activities, and often, about discoveries
from the past. While searching through a local library, Nathan made
one of the most important discoveries. A few pages in an old book
told the story of Percival Spencer's engine powered ornithopters.
They were built around 1960. But until the early 90s, we didn't
know about this work.
In the 1990s,
several people were trying to build engine powered or electric ornithopters.Sean
Kinkade was a machinist, and he was really good at building ornithopter
mechanisms. He hadn't gotten anything to fly yet, and Nathan suggested
trying Spencer's already proven wing design on his ornithopter.
In a very short time, Sean reported a successful flight. He began
selling ornithopters with his updated version of Spencer's wing
design, and in that way the rediscovery of Spencer's work influenced
a whole new generation of ornithopter enthusiasts.
Later, we found
out about the amazing ornithopter research conducted in Germany
in the 1930s and 40s. Some people were trying to build the "world's
first" manned ornithopter, but then we found 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. A biplane version called "Luna"
established a simple mechanism for flapping four wings. These simple,
rubber band powered designs helped thousands of people learn how
to build their own ornithopters.
It turned out
that the Freebird and Luna designs were easily converted to electric
power. A system of micro-sized gears developed by J. D. Nicoud is
really what made this possible. It created an easy route for people
to develop their own radio controlled ornithopters. Universities
were taking a great interest in ornithopter research, and the Luna
scissor-wing design formed the basis for the many four-winged micro
air vehicle ornithopters that were developed. Toy companies also
began to produce small radio-controlled ornithopters based on the
Freebird or Luna. This introduced a whole new generation to the
idea of mechanical flapping wings, but it also heightened the need
is no shortage of information on ornithopters. Unfortunately, that
information is not all sound. There are ornithopter plans that don't
fly, and misleading claims made by some researchers. The Ornithopter
Society is needed now more than ever, to provide a trusted resource
for those who want accurate information.
We hope you
will take a moment to support the work we are doing, and we hope
the resources we provide will help you advance your own activities
in exploring the wonders of flapping-wing flight!