Toronto’s cyclists work on their latest escape plan should Rob Ford become mayor

If our two-wheeled readers find themselves wondering how they’ll get out of Toronto after Mayor Ford has won the War on the Car, we’ve got just the thing: Todd Reichert, a University of Toronto doctoral student, has put together a human-powered flying machine that kind of looks like one of those things the Wright Brothers crashed out of the air more than a century ago, flapping wings and all.

The Toronto Sun reports:

It’s called the Snowbird, and on Aug. 2, Reichert climbed aboard, flapped its massive wings through a system of pulleys by pedalling his feet, and took off, sustaining altitude and airspeed for 19.3 seconds, and covering a distance of 145 metres at 25.6 km/h.

“The Snowbird represents the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream,” Reichert said in a statement. “Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands, have attempted to achieve it. This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts.”

There’s a lot of talk about this being a dream of Leonardo Da Vinci’s, but connections to Da Vinci really shouldn’t be pushed too far. This machine is made out of materials the painter could never have imagined. Plus, we’re pretty sure the University of Toronto is not, in fact, a secret society to preserve the bloodline of Jesus Christ. (Though that would explain a few things.)

Toronto cyclists looking to pull a Snake Plissken and escape the city will probably still need a little help from their car-owning friends: in the video, you can see the plane is towed to give it a good running start, and then there’s the problem that the ornithopter flew at a blistering 25 kilometres an hour for only about 20 seconds. Even if you could fly the thing out of Toronto, it might be faster to just walk to the nearest subway.

• Human-powered aircraft takes flight [Toronto Sun] • Bird-plane a flying first [Toronto Star]World’s first pedal-powered ornithopter takes flight in Canada [Register UK] • Human-powered plane flies with flapping wings [CTV News]


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