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About the Ornithopter Zone

The Ornithopter 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.

The Ornithopter 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.

Today, thanks 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!