This is, I am sure, an early April Fool's day spoof (people have beentrying to make working man-carrying ornithopters for donkey's years,without much success). Question is, how the hell has it ended up on theBBC's science and technology page without even a hint of joke to it?
An hour later:
Jon,This is definitely a fake.I can think of a couple of ways to do this one; either videomanipulation or actually "fly" the thing with the pilot hanging off awire zip-line, which is subsequently edited out of the video frame byframe.Quite who got it onto the BBC deserves a medal, though.
About an hour after that:
By way of background, years and years ago I qualified for a basic-levelhang-gliding pilot certificate. As a result of this, I know how heavy aman-carrying glider is, and how much wing area you need even for just acontrolled hilltop to valley glide. That flapping thing has far too little wing area to carry a man, and ismuch, much too light to be strong enough to carry a man. A hang-gliderweighs about 50 kilos or thereabouts; you can stand up with one on yourshoulders (you have to, to be able to launch one) but it isn't easy andas to flapping wings too, this is impossible. A person cannot flapwings heavy enough to support a person and glider with just arm power(or even arm and leg power combined; this has been tried) alone.Finally, the wings aren't joined in the middle. Hang-glider wings arejoined, because that's where much of the lift comes from; hang-gliderwings are a complex shape so designed that when you increase the angleof attack by pushing the control bar out, the centre of the wing stallsfirst and the wing only slowly loses lift. This makes landing thethings a good deal easier; you can scrub off speed and make acontrolled landing.That contraption doesn't have the main lift zone that that sort of wingneeds, and on landing the entire thing would stall all at once. Havingonce managed to land a glider on a drystone wall, I can easily see theneed for a wing that is predictable on landing.It's a fake. The film is a damn good fake, and the editing is firstrate, but it is still a fake. Check with Matthew Williams; he has microlight experience and will be able to confirm what I say here.
Later that evening...
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/22/dutch-artist-admits-faking-viral-human-bird-wings-video/Not a real model on a zip-wire as I thought, but cgi using dodgy focus to cover inadequacies of the computer imaging.You know, we're going to see more and more of this in future. The new Fortean mantra is going to have to be not "pictures or it never happened" but "physical evidence that stands up to police evidence levels, or it never happened".