Manned Ornithopters
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Getting Started

Seeing them fly is amazing, but it is not easy to build an ornithopter. You can improve your chances of success if you start off with a proven design before beginning your own experiments. In fact, your best bet is to start off with one of the simple, rubber-band-powered ornithopters, instead of launching right into a much more complex design with electric motor and radio control. Although the rubber-powered models may seem antiquated, the experience of building one will teach you many important concepts that will help ensure the success of your future endeavors.

We have provided some free plans on this web site, which you can use to build your own ornithopters. These are all proven designs. However, some of them are too advanced for beginners. The "Freebird" design is the best one to start with.

There are a few things you should watch out for. Beware of any tutorials that supposedly show you how to build an ornithopter from "household materials". These sub-standard ornithopters will not fly. There are also several cheaply made ornithopter kits on the market. Some of these may appear simple, but are actually frustrating to build. Also, any ornithopter kit that uses a lot of plastic and bamboo in its construction (instead of balsa wood) is not likely to fly very well. Those materials are simply too heavy.

After you get started with the free plans, you can go to the next page and start learning how to design and build your own ornithopters.