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Bat-winged unicyclist

Will I be able get off the ground using bat-like wings on a unicycle?
  (+5, -4)
(+5, -4)
  [vote for,

I plan to construct bat-like wings and following in the footsteps of the Wright brothers attempt a brief flight while riding a unicycle downhill into the wind.

I have failed to convince those planning to land a wingsuit that they could dramatically increase their chance for success by controlling wing camber.

brite_eye, Jan 07 2009

Morphing Technology http://pdf.aiaa.org...811/PV2009_1435.pdf
"In recent years there has been an increasing number of academic, government and industrial interest in morphing technology. A fine example of effective morphing in a flying creature is the Bat. Bats have very efficient wings, and they have a unique ability to morph wing camber. Morphing (changing camber and aspect ratio) makes bats far more maneuverable than birds especially at very low speeds." [brite_eye, Jan 07 2009]

Weave and dive in the air like no other animal http://lpmpjogja.di...id/kc/b/bat/bat.htm
"The rigid bird wing is more efficient at providing lift, but the flexible bat wing allows for greater maneuverability. Bats can position their wings into different shapes, changing the degree and direction of lift very quickly. This lets them weave and dive in the air like no other animal, giving them a distinct advantage in hunting prey." [brite_eye, Jan 07 2009]

Rows of muscles http://www.apogeero...cation/bat_plan.asp
"It is the membrane that allows the bat to change its wing camber quickly. The membrane has rows of muscles that can be tightened or relaxed, and it is this that keeps the wing in the right shape all the time." [brite_eye, Jan 07 2009]

Research at Cornell http://lims.mae.cor...jects/batwings.html
"Research at Cornell has successfully reached two goals: studying evolved bat wing shape by ecological niche in terms of wing flight performance capabilities, and investigating the role of smart material actuators to vary the spanwise curvature (active camber change) while in flight. These two components are necessary components for development of an active morphing bat-like wing, which is currently in development." [brite_eye, Jan 07 2009]

Ski Wings http://www.skiwings.com/
Invented by David Toland [brite_eye, Jan 10 2009]

hehe http://s68.photobuc...rrent=unicoyote.jpg
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 10 2009]

Gossamer Albatross - Human Powered Flight http://en.wikipedia.../Gossamer_Albatross
[MisterQED, Jan 10 2009]

Pollutelessly http://www.google.c...rch?q=pollutelessly
Flapping bat-like wings while pollutelessly pedaling downhill [brite_eye, Jan 17 2009]

Ray's greatest adventure http://sites.google...atwingedunicyclist/
Batwinged unicyclist [brite_eye, Jan 27 2009]

A futuristic view http://vyle-art.com...hcan/wingsuit_B.jpg
Although impressive, this doesn't seem to allow any significant flapping and a landing at highspeeds would be very unstable with such small wheels. [brite_eye, Dec 30 2009]

wingsuit landing http://www.youtube....watch?v=tZizIbSpI-g
The World's first wingsuit landing. [brite_eye, Dec 30 2009, last modified Jan 12 2010]


       Was it Orville or Wilbur that was the unicyclist?
I know that they had a bicycle shop, but didn't know they went uni.
coprocephalous, Jan 07 2009

       The unicycle is a unique vehicle in that if it breaks down and you have to walk, you'll get there quicker.
baconbrain, Jan 07 2009

       Is the concept viable? Possibly.   

       Can *you* get it to work? Highly unlikely (think of the equipemnt needed.)   

       Start off with the basic requirement for your flight - how much weight will there be and how much thrust or uplift can you generate. The theory and practice of wing camber control is one thing, but the application to a someone on a unicycle - that's something else entirely. Sounds like it should be in the Halfbakery...
Jinbish, Jan 07 2009

       //Will I be able get off the ground using bat-like wings on a unicycle?// Will I be able [to] get [back up] off the ground [after] using bat-like wings on a unicycle?
4whom, Jan 07 2009

       coprocephalous -   

       I don't think either brother went uni - but believe both road highwheels before constructing safety bicycles.
brite_eye, Jan 07 2009

       It would not be *that* difficult to build a simple Lilienthal glider, which you could easily wear whilst unicycling. Then there's no reason why you couldn't unipedal to get up the necessary speed, instead of running down a hill. You'd probably want to leave the unicycle behind, though, since landing forcibly with anything between your legs is an adventure waiting to happen.   

       I don't think the question is "Whether?", or even "How?"; it's more "Why?"
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 07 2009



       To demonstrate that flapping small wings not only allows one to brake, balance and turn a unicycle but also jump to previously unattainable heights. My success may also be noticed and used by wingsuit flyers attempting to land without a parachute. The most difficult factor will be producing an adjustable camber induced wing with accurate bio-feedback.
brite_eye, Jan 07 2009

       //wingsuit flyers attempting to land without a parachute// Several wingsuit flyers have done this already, may they rest in peace.   

       Also, how do you propose to follow in the Wright bro's footsteps whilst on a unicycle?   

       No matter. I wish you well and applaud your ambition* - go for it.   

       *This should in no way be construed as an opinion that the proposed activity is endorsed by MaxCo, its subsidiaries, or its supersidiaries.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 07 2009

       Assuming from your links that you have researched this a little, I don't have to point at that lever over there <points> and detail how a small force applied at its tip, needs a large force to counteract it on the other side of the fulcrum.   

       Of course, if we are *not* talking about flying, but rather "falling with style", in the immortal words of Buzz (Lightyear, not Aldrin), then give it a crack son.
4whom, Jan 07 2009

       I don't know. You get no bone or bun from me. I'm not 100% certain about what you're trying to do. If you want to launch a hang glider with a unicycle off a cliff, I don't see why that wouldn't work. If you think you're going to achieve stall speed on level ground, you're in for a rude awakening.
kevinthenerd, Jan 07 2009

       I can picture the idea, but I really can't see it working. How are you going to balance on a unicycle with an aerodynamic brake stuck to you? As soon as you open the wings your unicycle is going to flyout in front, possibly hitting you in the face. Good luck though. Send me the video.
silverstormer, Jan 07 2009

       To those questioning how this relates to the Wright brothers first powered flight at Kitty Hawk:   

       They selected Kitty Hawk because it offered great conditions - an 80 foot sand dune allowing frequent downhill attempts into a prevailing wind.   

       I do not expect to require frequent attempts and hope to find a suitable road in a Michigan valley. Again my stated goal is for "a brief flight while riding a unicycle downhill into the wind". Success may simply be a video with me a few feet off the ground. Obviously this could easily be done with a hang glider. However my goal is to use independently controlled wings attached to each arm not much bigger than a wingsuit.
brite_eye, Jan 07 2009

       This needs a pier.
skinflaps, Jan 07 2009

       //This needs a pier.//   

       I agree. :)
silverstormer, Jan 07 2009

       I am still in the design phase but think David's ski wings might provide an interesting starting point (see above link).
brite_eye, Jan 10 2009

Don't b[link]

       At first reading I thought this was about combining a hang glider with a unicycle which I thought was unlikely because it is hard/impossible to go fast on a unicycle. (Can they be made with gears? I guess a three speed in hub gear set is possible, though I don't know if it's rideable.) Now I think these wings will be attached to your arms at which point I must ask if you can do an "iron cross" and for how long. I guess part of the force could be sprung, but my original doubt has magnified. I would suggest you look up the specs for the Gossamer Albatross to see the specs necessary to get a human in the air under their own power. (link)
MisterQED, Jan 10 2009

       MisterQED and other mind wanderers,   

       My goal does not require "in the air under their own power"! I plan to use gravity (downhill) and a head wind to create the necessary forces (much more complex than lift alone) to get airborne. Note also that one does not need any wings to get airborne in a tornado (Pecos Bill did it with a lasso).   

       While I could simply attempt to spread my arms/wings standing on top of a speeding car - I hope that my unicycle proves to be a safer test vehicle. I doubt anyone has yet tried setting a speed record riding a unicycle downhill using wings to help balance along with very short cranks to minimize leg movements (cranks of zero length would essentially be equivalent to a bi-directional freewheel). An ability to perform an "iron cross" would only be necessary to stay at constant altitude - such strength won't be needed while gracefully falling towards a sloped landing. Tethering wings to seat post or an exoskeleton would allow one to indefinitely hold an iron cross.
brite_eye, Jan 11 2009

       Have you looked into the basic wing area / section / weight / speed calculation to see how large your wings need to be to support your weight at whatever speed you think you can achieve? There is a simple limit to how short a crank you can use on a unicycle, and it becomes longer as you add more sources of instability (like a big wing six feet above the axle!) As such your speed will be limited to something probably less than the 15mph that the albatross required. On a bicycle it is possible, but a unicycle adds too large a stability problem.
Twizz, Jan 28 2009

       //I hope that my unicycle proves to be a safer test vehicle//   

       Possibly the first time this phrase has ever been used <goes away to google> Almost certainly the first time this phrase has ever been used.
MadnessInMyMethod, Jan 28 2009

       Reading further through the last anno... How directionally stable is a unicycle? If you are practically freewheeling down a hill, and your wings aren't quite even when you put them out, what's to stop you turning and crashing into a bush/building/passing pop group in a bus?
MadnessInMyMethod, Jan 28 2009

       Dear god, Your pectoral muscles are NOT strong enough!!!
Zimmy, Jan 28 2009


       MindOverMatter is the answer to your questions. A successful windsurfer knows the power of the wind can be controlled even when large waves threaten to throw the rider off balance.
brite_eye, Jan 30 2009


       My pectoral muscles are weak, but if necessary a carbon fiber exoskeleton would certainly be strong enough. You apparently have not viewed any wingsuit flyer videos.
brite_eye, Jan 30 2009

       I think I've seen the wingsuit flyer videos, and even a couple where jets or rockets were affixed, but I was concerned with the word "flapping" being used.   

       I think you could get airborne if you had some sort of nearly fixed wing, but I am afraid you might hurt yourself if you intend to use your arms to create a downward thrust.   

       I think if the wingsuit people used suits that had a frame extending their arms to create a larger wing area, they wouldn't be able to do what they do, because I think their arms would be pulled behind their back. I seem to recall one of the guys who does this mention that he was thinking about attempting a landing. All he would say was that it would involve an incline. At the time I was thinking that he might attach a wheeled body carraige or something, but he might have been thinking roller blades. hmm....   

       -edit... maybe I misunderstood what you meant by "flapping", though.
I might suggest using roller blades instead of a unicycle. In fact, I would possibly even be convinced to try this with roller blades - if I had nearly full body padding and a helmet. (I changed my vote to +, believe it or not).
Zimmy, Jan 30 2009

       Certainly at high speeds roller blades would be better than the skateboard from futuristic view in link section up above. However, I would still prefer flexible wings (offering responsive control based on sensitive bio-feedback) along with a single large wheel rather than small roller blade wheels when landing at speeds above 30mph.
brite_eye, Dec 30 2009

       I was just informed that well over a year ago Andreas Küttel landed wearing a wingsuit on skis. See "wingsuit landing" in the the link section up above. This has taken the breath out of me and some urgency out of my current plans to get off the ground and land as a batwinged unicyclist.
brite_eye, Dec 30 2009

       I doubt it would be easy: not a unicyclist myself, but wouldn't the added weight of the wing structure (even unfurled) throw your balance way off ? The guy on skis is in a tuck position on takeoff; 'cyclists are quite vertical.   

       [total edit, just saw that video] that wheel is going to be impossible to balance in the air... unless your wings are on your butt.
FlyingToaster, Dec 30 2009

       Flying Toaster wrote: "that wheel is going to be impossible to balance in the air"   

       A thin 12 inch wheel (secured using cleated shoes and clipless pedals) might simply act as a stabilizing fin. If it spins fast enough it might act as a gyro adding even more stability. I wonder what direction it would tend to spin during a fall. Ideally both feet would be in the same position rather than a typical cycling 180 degree out of phase position. I plan to initially test using small wings with either a BC wheel or my green machine coaster wheel taking off a downhill ramp (similar to ski jumping).
brite_eye, Jan 13 2010

       human CG is around the navel to begin with; adding a few pounds at the end of a lever (legs) is just going to move it down towards the feet.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2010


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