Can Humans Fly With Wings?
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Can Humans Fly With Wings?

August 27, 2019


Humans have wing envy. For thousands of years, we’ve been dreaming
up hare-brained schemes to fly like birds. The ancient Greeks conjured up Icarus and
Daedalus, who made wings from bird feathers, strings and wax. Leonardo da Vinci put a little more thought
into it, drafting plans for a mechanical winged contraption known as the ornithopter. While 20th-century humans are perfectly capable
of taking to the skies, there’s something intrinsically unsatisfying about doing so
in an aluminum behemoth. We still want to fly like birds, taking off
under our own power and gliding effortlessly once we’re airborne. After at least two millennia of thoughtful
engineering, why are humans still trying to figure out individual flight? Why can’t we strap on a set of wings and take
off? To understand why, consider the physics of
liftoff. In order to leave the ground, the forces driving
a body upward must overcome the downward force of the body’s weight. You can see this in action during a jump. When you push your feet down into the ground,
Earth provides an equal and opposite reaction, forcing the body upward. You can’t rely on the ground when trying to
achieve sustained flight, since the whole point is to uncouple yourself from Earth. So flying creatures and machines have to push
air down into the ground, instead of pushing on the ground itself. There are two ways to manage the problem of
pushing down enough air to achieve liftoff. You can accelerate a small amount of air downward
very quickly, as a hummingbird does. That takes incredible power, and none of the
muscles in the human body muscles can even come close to accelerating air that quickly. Alternatively, you can accelerate a large
amount of air more slowly, which is the more efficient technique, especially for heavier
fliers. (That’s why a pelican’s wings don’t flap as
fast as that of a sparrow or hummingbird.) You might think, then, that we could just
build really, really large wings and flap them quite slowly. But there’s a problem here, too. Bigger wings, and the muscle required to move
them, add weight to the equation. The amount of power required to take off increases
by the square of the additional weight. So a doubling of weight requires a fourfold
increase in power output. Unfortunately, our arm and back muscles just
aren’t that strong. Our more powerful quadriceps and gluteal muscles,
stretching from our thighs up, however, can almost do the job. For a human to take flight on flapping wings,
your body would have to be made almost entirely of muscle. In other words, humans make terrible hummingbirds. With flapping and spinning apparently non-starters,
a couple of options remain. Some birds, including albatrosses, take to
the air by riding thermal updrafts. They coast between the rising and falling
air currents to manage their trajectory and execute a landing. It’s a phenomenon similar to hang-gliding. But the whole process is totally dependent
on the right wind conditions, and many scientists think albatrosses can’t fly on a still day,
and therefore consider the birds technically flightless. We could attempt fixed, airfoil-shaped wings,
as we use in airplanes. When a plane gets going fast enough, the air
moving over the top of the wing is at a slightly lower pressure than the air underneath, creating
the phenomenon known as lift. The problem is that you have to get going
far faster than your legs can carry you. The frustrating physical reality seems to
be that, unless we can lose a lot of weight without losing any strength, humans simply
aren’t destined to fly any significant distances under their own power. But there is a happy ending, of sorts, to
this story. The jet pack, probably the closest thing a
human will ever get to flying like a hummingbird, is right around the corner. A New Zealand-based company has developed
the Martin Jetpack, essentially a helicopter backpack. Working with the same basic problem that faces
human-powered flight, power requirements increase at the square of added weight, Martin developed
a rotary wing system with the lightest engine capable of turning the rotors. What he ended up with was an automobile-style
piston engine. It’s lightweight, and it forces far more air
through the rotors than it uses to combust the gasoline that powers the engine. While it’s not exactly soaring like a majestic
bird, it’ll save you the hard work of flapping your way up there.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. It's good we don't have wings, last thing we need is pedos swooping down on little kids in the park. People seem to only think about what they will be able to do while forgetting about what others would also be able to do.

  2. I think wings made with helium filled chambers, carbon fiber or bamboo framing and using the mechanical advantage of pulleys like used in a compound bow could provide enough lift for human powered wings. Any investor want to back my plans?

  3. What if you make wings that are proportionate to body weight, size and muscle mass? That take a slight running start while slowly flapping. I think that might work. Maybe blend the feathers like add a few eagle feathers add a few vulture, etc. For the best and most balanced mix

  4. This, is technically possible. Super light and strong materials exist. Like Titanium, carbon fiber, Dacron, Kevlar and such. Motors fast, light and powerful enough to manipulate and flap wings exist. Computer and sensor systems sophisticated enough to control your robotic wings can be made. The problem is , and always has been, power. The power source is the problem. Nothing exists, that is powerful or light enough to make it work. Yet. It would be really cool though… Someday…

  5. how about wings controlled by Mechanical force of a motor with battery then controlled by our brains? with future inventions too,hey don't judge im just a dreaming kid

  6. So I'm writing a story involving a person born with wings(a superpower). I'm trying to figure how he would actually fly. His bones are hollow such as a bird's is, his wings have a fairly large span as well. What I'm gathering here is that it would be better for him to accelerate large gusts of winds slowly since he's about 5 ft. and its more reasonable than a quick acceleration since more typically smaller birds use this method. But I still need to take into account of his weight right?

  7. what if we build light weight wings mechanical we can strap on our backs, it wouldn't require you to have a bunch of muscle and could be made of light metal like aluminium

  8. you guys can ACTUALLY GROW WINGS NOW! it's called subliminals and you can get anything from them…if your doing a sub. make sure to drink water! and…..if ur head hurts take a break…..anything that doesn't normally happen is a sign it's working and if you don't feel anything…it's still working! k here's a link to a sub. for wings! good luck!<3

    {p.s, it depends on the type of person when the wings come in and watch out for MaxCruise73 because he says subs. don't do anything and it's not possible and they don't work but they do! the military uses them…my mom is in the Army and her unit still uses them!<3}

    here is da link to ur future wings!<3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8Rm_Fy57gE

  9. What if someone creates mechanical wings that are both light but also powerful where we don’t need to use our muscles? (Of course I don’t think this is possible but it’s nice to think of 😅)

  10. under our own power ? why ?
    why cant i use a small engine to power the wings (big and slow motion )just like a bird.

    imma make it in this life n proove all you wrong.

  11. your body shld me made entirely of muscles.such cliched expert opinion.
    just having more muscles doesnt generate strength.the bone structure and bone fitment wld also need design change for that kinda movement

  12. martin jetpack or gravity org.the problem with this design, in case of power failure, u drop dead.but with bird wing design..u can still glide to the ground

  13. Id love them to make wings so i can rob a bank and fly away 😀 "edit" if they do make humans fly they are dumb af

  14. Flying is nothing more then manipulating the air to produce thrust to get you off the ground and airborne.
    It's just counteracting gravity!
    So how does Superman fly?
    He use his bioelectric aura to control electro magnetic graviton energy! (In other words, he manipulats gravity itself)
    Isn't science fun?

  15. Actually, there's a happier ending to this. When we get to create colonies in Saturn's moon Titan, we'll be able to fly with wings because of the small gravity and dense atmosphere!

  16. actually just decrease the air pressure beneath the wings…birds with their feathers use the air pressure…it's like you swimming…

  17. Isn't it supposed to be impossible for bees to fly, given their strength, size and weight, and yet they do? I'm just saying, bees managed it, maybe we can O.O

  18. I know you come here because you have a dream about falling down off a cliff!……. but you realize that you did not die, but fall slowly and you twitch your leg, and wake up, and went back to sleep……… and have you even have a dream that all of your love one die and just you, yeah i have that dream and i know you were crying but you wake up and you realize that your parents are still sleeping.

  19. I call planes cheating at flight and I hate pretty much all motorized flight machines that use a crazy amount of energy with small wings. I love hang gliders, power kites, ext though because they aren't cheating. I would also consider strong and light huge controllable robotic bat-like wings good.

  20. But how about a a set of wings with an electric engine that assists in the motion, similar to pedal-assisted electric bikes.

  21. Maybe we could just go to the gym and work really hard on improving the required muscles and then make really large wings out of a really light, but durable material.

    Basically, a flapping handglider for buff people.

  22. Also, the wings on an average human would have to be…. (how long is 8 feet?) I'm guessing over 2 meters. Not to mention that over half the wings would be flopping instead of actually flapping. Like waving a piece of paper by only holding the edge.

  23. According to Google if to wingspan is 80' or so and lighter Then the human's weight then it's possible to fly

  24. ver since i seen TED talk on prosthetics that can move with out looking at it.. why cant we have hydraulic exosuit that is controlled by sensors similar to prosthetic arms.

  25. i had an argument about my science teacher about humans being able to fly with the use of transgenics and multiple years of human experimentations like 200thousand years worth fo working on our bodies for us to develop not only a new skeletal structure but also new internal organs and such to better suit our new capabilities, thought? i want to provide him with a 10page long thesis about why, how and when this would be a reality

  26. Really I think it depends on the type of wings. Wings that are made for gliding would allow for a minimum amount of flapping to cause thrust. If anyone has any other things to add please do

    Edit: Plus, it would also depend on whether you're flying with feathered wings or bat wings. It makes all the difference

  27. If we did have the required muscle strength and proper wing size to fly then how big would our wings have to be?

  28. This video makes some fantastic points! The one about the power required goes up with the square of the added weight for instance. My experiments show it is actually a bit less than that. There is however a human powered ornithopter that maintained a level flight for quite a few seconds, though it was pulled into the air initially. It was called the Snowbird and had about a 120 foot wingspan. There was also a human powered helicopter that flew for over a minute, made by the same group. Also, there are human powered airplanes that have flown for long distances, also using very large wing spans. If you click on my channel icon the the left, you can see an ion propelled aircraft with no moving mechanical parts, that lifts its power supply!

  29. No I bet in the future scientists will figure out some crazy black magic to make flipping add ons to your body for like $1M.

  30. So you need an strong power like body builder… And a body of a malnourished people…

    Is that posible?.

  31. this is also probably not realistic but what if we made mechanical wings that could ACTUALLY let you fly (almost like a jet pack in a way)

  32. I hope Individual flight with wings will not be invented because I know that we humans don't have the muscles to give the right amount of pressure with our wings to the ground therefore we will come up with an idea to make some suit of armour/bodysuit/exosuit whatever you call it to enhance our muscle to give the right amount of power or pressure from our wings to the ground and if you think about it once again. Instead of gaining flight from our enhance muscle, we could possibly do something else other than flying, from that enhance muscle capabilities I know it sounds weird but its logical, you could possibly break through concrete wall by punching it or lift like tons of heavyweight and if you COMBINE IT WITH FLYING YOU BE LIKE = SUPERMAN but without the laser eye and freezing breath and his other superhuman sense abilities. Sorry guys if I explain it by using superman as an example because he was the only character that came into mind. Just say you will become above human average from physical capabilities!

  33. Reminds me of all the times I stretched towels, jackets, foam mats, etc across my arms and ran down hills against the wind (when I was 6)… I loved airplanes since I was 3.

  34. Well if you're smart enough to make the wings, u should be smart enough to not want yourself look like an idiot while flapping your arms.. So graciously put your wings at your back, slap in some costum muscle and connect it to your brain and you're good to go! Well, assuming you have the budget and the brain to make the thing anyways.

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