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(ôr`nəthŏp'tər): see flightflight,
sustained, self-powered motion through the air, as accomplished by an animal, aircraft, or rocket. Animal Flight

Adaptation for flight is highly developed in birds and insects. The bat is the only mammal that accomplishes true flight.
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a heavier-than-air craft with flapping wings. A flapping motion of wings is used in flight by various living beings, such as birds.

Studies show that the ratio of a bird’s weight to the power of its muscles is about the same as in humans—(1,350 ± 675) newtons per kilowatt, or (100 ± 50) kilograms-force per horsepower—but the considerable additional weight of the ornithopter structure itself makes takeoff in this type of aircraft virtually impossible for humans. However, if a muscle-powered ornithopter is first accelerated or is launched from an elevated position, it can take off and fly a distance of 1–2 km. Experimental flights in the simplest type of ornithopter (called an orthopter) were made as early as the early 20th century (in 1921 by the Soviet aircraft designer B. I. Cheranovskii and in 1929 by the German aircraft designer H. Krause). The design and construction of ornithopters equipped with an engine and with a complex transmission for the flapping wings are of interest mainly from the viewpoint of developing a theory of the dynamics of a flapping wing.


Tikhonravov, M. K. Polet ptits i mashiny s mashushchimi kryl’iami, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1949.
Alexander, R. Biomekhanika. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from English.)
Shestakova, G. S. Stroenie kryl’ev i mekhanika poleta ptits. Moscow, 1971.



An aircraft that derives its lift by the flapping of wings or oscillating about any axis but not by rotating.
References in periodicals archive ?
However it was Ibn Firnas' attempts at flying that pioneered the world of aviation and at the same time giving birth to the concept of ornithopter which is the key component in maintaining flight stability during landing.
Without use of his legs, which were crucial in operating the ornithopter, Shaw finally realized he could never leave earth.
Da Vinci supposedly designed the wings of the ornithopter after studying bird wings, and the design brings together the complex articulation of bird-wing bones - in this case the bones of a bat - with an ingenious human-powered mechanism that employs such innovations as a lengthening lead screw, according to Spence.
Bleriot recounted the evolution of flying machines in Europe and his own experiments with flight, abandoning ornithopters and helicopters to settle on aeroplanes.
The MicroBat, a Caltech-AeroVironment collaboration, has the goal of being the first battery-powered, wing-flapping, ornithopter.
100 years ago a flying machine called an ornithopter, with enormous oscillating wings was constructed at John Shaw's cycle forks works near Priory Street.
Da Vinci himself was studying human physiology and anatomy and the flight of birds, and -- although his own work directly on the topic of human-powered flight, ornithopter design, was essentially meritless beyond its decorative qualities --the apparently tangential work was, in the long run, pertinent to the technologies that would eventually enable the Gossamer Condor to be constructed.
The Waxflatter Ornithopter from Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Young Sherlock Holmes.
Kristen Goehl, Wachusett, Ornithopter Design: Optimizing Turning Radius
For centuries engineers have attempted such a feat, ever since Leonardo Da Vinci sketched the first human-powered ornithopter in 1485.
I'm reminded of the ornithopter, a flying machine engineered to fly under the power of its own flapping wings.