On July 31st and August 2nd, 2010 the Snowbird succeeded in completing several sustained flights!! On the longest flight the altitude and airspeed were maintained for 19.3 seconds, setting a world first, and achieving the age-old aeronautical dream of self-powered flapping wing flight! The accomplishment of our goal is a success shared by all, and I must thank everyone who was involved for their help, sponsorship, advice, or simply for their interest in our project, which has motivated us when times where hard.
Please check out the media section of our website for pictures and video.
So what’s next?
As much as we would love to keep flying the aircraft, the failure of the drive line on the last flight of the day on August 2nd reminded us of the reality of the project. Fortunately the line broke in such a way that the wings were spared, but there are many parts where we have seen fatigue wear, and the risk of destroying a historical artifact is not worth the reward. Additionally, the pilot's training cycle, tapering period and weight loss phase (18 lbs in 4 weeks) were very specifically timed for the flight, and any further flights this season would be unlikely to result in longer records.
The flight was witness by a representative from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and records of the flight have since been submitted to the FAI for approval. Within the coming weeks flight record documents and information about the aircraft will become available on the website. It is our hope that the aircraft will find a home in one of the more prominent museums, and yes, for everyone that keeps asking, we'll make sure to get it in the Guinness Book ;)
With the knowledge and data from this first aircraft possible to say that longer flights are feasible. As the first iteration, there are many, many areas that could be improved including decreased weight and greater propulsive efficiency through better wing kinematics. We look forward to future iterations, whether designed by us, or by another team of inspired and dedicated individuals!
So thank you again to everyone that has been a part of this! It's been a wild ride.. and I have a feeling the fun isn't over yet ;)