Friday 13 September 2019

Why Men will Fly like Birds

CAPE TIMES – 1933, September 28
In Science, Mechanics & Invention, the Age of the Bird Man is foreseen.
Today in the most matter-of-fact manner you step into your motor car, press the accelerator and quickly travel to your destination.
Tomorrow, as indicated by recent discoveries in the science of aviation, you will be able to strap on a pair of wings, set in motion the machinery that will make them flap, soar through the air and speedily reach your journey’s end.
Men will soon be flying like birds, according to Professor Antoine Magnan, technical adviser of the French Air Ministry. In an address before the French Academy of Science this authority on aviation vividly described the early development of a gigantic new industry, which would spring up almost overnight, for he foresees countless millions of winged men.8
Professor Magnan has been studying the flight of birds and insects for more than 20 years, with the idea of making aircraft more efficient. He has experimented with 500 different kinds of birds, as well as innumerable insects, and has written more than 30 000 detailed reports on flights.
This French investigator, however, is not alone in his investigations to solve the secrets of the investigations to solve the secrets of the bird’s power of flight. Johnathan E. Caldwell, of Madison, New Jersey, likewise has been studying for years the wings of birds to discover their secrets of aerial propulsion. As a result of his investigations Mr. Caldwell has designed a new type of an aeroplane which embodies many of the principles he discovered that birds use in flying.
Mr. Caldwell’s plane is equipped with three wings, instead of the bird’s one, on each side. His plane uses a rotary motion where the bird uses a flapping action. The three wings, revolving, give a balanced action, a fly-wheel effect. The valves in the wings open on the upstroke and close on the downstroke, and thus function exactly as the feathers in a bird’s wing. The power impulse on the down-stroke, when the valves are closed, is a lifting impulse, thus keeping the plane in the air. In vertical ascent and descent, the wings are maintained in a neutral angle and in forward flight they are tilted into a negative or gliding angle while revolving. Altitude is regulated by the degree of rotation and controlled by the pilot at the throttle.
The idea of man flying with beating wings is several thousand years old, but it has suddenly become practicable, Professor Magnan points out, because of the development of motors, of increased knowledge of air structure, and most of all, because rapid motion pictures have revealed the mechanism of winged flight.
By ultra-rapid motion pictures, and by using mixtures of tinted smoke so that the air movements round a flying bird literally can be dissected, aviation experts now understand for the first time just what is necessary for winged flight and so the era of bird-men is at hand, Prof. Magnan predicts. “I am certain that in a comparatively short time, perhaps two or three years, men will be frolicking about in the sky like birds,” says Prof. Magnan. “A man fitted with two wings, each with four or five square feet of surface, can fly with his own bodily energy if he can make his wings beat somewhere between 13 and 20 strokes a second. The man and his machine should not weigh more than 220 lb. for wings of this size. Naturally the wings would have a full spread in the downward beat and be turned sideways for the upward beat. The angle of the arc made by the wings would be 45 or 50 degrees. The flier would hardly have sufficient power to climb, though upward wind currents would lift him, but he could fly horizontally as long as his strength held out.” Prof. Magnan describes the bird-man’s flying equipment as a motored machine consisting of a light frame, including a seat, with two wings. Each wing would be from 60 ins. to 80 ins. long and the shape of half a leaf, cut along the main stem, with the straight side forward and both ends pointed. The centre width would be from 20 ins. to 30 ins.
The wings would not beat straight up and down, but the course of an inclined and rather flat figure eight; that is, a long stroke downward and forward, a turn upward, a long rising backstroke, a turn upward, and then the long downward and forward stroke again. The number required would be between 13 and 20 a second, depending on weight and other circumstances but 20 is the maximum necessary and a small motor is sufficient to produce this power. Prof. Magnan has calculated that a man has sufficient physical energy to fly with wings on a horizontal line, as he needs only one-eighth of a horse-power, which is what a day labourer exerts in his work. But it will be far safer and more exhilarating for him to use a small motor no bigger than his hat. Extra and revolving propellers also could be attached like those of an auto-giro.

Watch Jarno Smeets, a Dutch mechanical engineer, take off and fly like a real bird just by flapping wings of his own invention. Smeets took notes from the albatross and this system allowed him to literally start flapping his arms to take off and keep flying.

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