"Ornithopters are the future"

The Ornithopter website

Red Kite © Philip Snow


A machine designed to achieve ​flight by means of flapping wings (Oxford dictionary).

What we do
We publish a quarterly newsletter Flapping Wings, which covers the latest ideas and developments ​concerning ornithopters. You can subscribe to ​Flapping Wings by clicking the Flapping Wings tab at the top of this page.​​

Current situation
Airplanes have been around for more than 100 years, but ornithopters are relatively new. Thousands of them have been developed but they are mostly small models. None of them are capable of carrying people for more than a short distance.

Our aims
We aim to advance the understanding of ornithopter theory and construction. We believe this will lead to 'people carrying ornithopter aircraft' becoming popular vehicles of choice for future generations (i.e., the next century, and beyond).

Affordable 'people carrying' ornithopters costing less than a motor car, and capable of being flown by most of us, is our aim.

Flight is expensive, isn't it?​
Contrary to popular belief, flying is more fuel efficient per man-mile (and safer) than motoring.

With the development of electric aircraft such as the Evector Epos and the Solar Impulse it will soon be possible to use solar cells to charge batteries that will power human carrying ornithopters. This will definitely make flight inexpensive; because the fuel (sunlight) will be free and maintenance of a personal ornithopter can be carried out by the owner just like the maintenance of a bicycle.

Human powered flight!
Yes; human powered flight is possible. A memorable human powered flight was made by Bryan Allen (an American cyclist) when he flew his pedal powered fixed-wing aircraft (named Gossamer albatross) across the English channel on the 12th June 1979; a distance of 23 miles.

Since then, we have been flying human powered fixed-wing aircraft on a regular basis.

The longest flight using human power was carried out in 1988 by Kanellos Kanellopoulos (a Greek cycling champion), when he pedalled a fixed-wing aircraft from Crete to the island of Santorini, a distance of 71 miles in under four hours*. His aircraft was named Daedalus, in commemoration of a Greek mythological flight from Crete to Santorini.

* A marathon runner runs 26 miles in just over two hours; and takes nothing with him, whereas Kanellos Kanellopoulos took an aircraft weighing 25kg a distance of 71 miles in 4 hours! So which is easier, flying or running?​

No one has flown a human powered ornithopter that can fly like a bird, from the ground up, using flapping wings only.

We teach the latest theory and ideas on 'big size' ornithopters through our Elements Of Ornithopter Design Course. This week's note from the course can be found by clicking the Course Note. ​​We try to change these Course notes every week.

To receive an Introductory chapter to the course, click on the email link below quoting Course in the email Subject line, and include your name, and postal address* (essential).


Updated: June 2014.

Ornithopter Design with Talos perdix