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Pheasant-tail-feather-style wings

Human powered flight using 4 highly adaptive long thin wings modeled on pheasant tail feathers.
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Pheasants evolved super long tail feathers both as a way of bursting out of thickets to escape predators and as a way for males to show off their twitch response muscles. The end of pheasant tail feathers get really thin compared to the base. When you twitch a disembodied tai feather around you can feel how they give power by sliding easily into a "skein" in the air and then resisting torque so that the pheasant can sort of leverage itself up into the air.

So my idea is to just extend this for humans. Have 4 really long, thin, flat artificial feathers reproportioned to human size, attached to each apendage -- made out of carbon fiber, but I don't think you would even need that strength, so that a human could leverage themselves into the air.

JesusHChrist, Feb 17 2005

Gossamer Albatross http://www.nasg.com...c.cgi?key=albatross
Successful man-powered flight for 20 miles [david_scothern, Feb 19 2005]

Vortical Flow Research Lab for Basepair http://web.mit.edu/...piral/www/home.html
[JesusHChrist, Feb 19 2005]


       I don't think it would work. Human powered flight is impossible at one standard gravity. We simply are too large and don't have the muscles. If we decide to use large wings, the air resistance becomes too great, and it is a hang glider. If they are too small, you sink like a stone.   

       At least, one person. If you had 6 people, rotating gears, to make a helicopter type thing, it could work.
DesertFox, Feb 17 2005

       Desert -- we have the muscles to climb stairs -- so climbing air is just a matter of efficiently transferring our energy to the air.
JesusHChrist, Feb 17 2005

       Ahhh. "Efficiently" Alas, t is not true. While climbing stairs, you have something underneath you to hold you up. If you stop, you do not fall.   

       As with flying, you do fall if you stop. Climbing stairs is just a matter of going up. Flying is a matter of going up and staying there without rest, all the while fighting gravity with nothing to hold you up but your increeasingly tired muscles.
DesertFox, Feb 17 2005

       Una -- People aren't built like birds though, most of our power is in our legs. So we would need leg wings. Actually we would need whatever aparatus would let all our muscles work democratically to transfer their energy into the air to support us.   

       Birds may have started off as 4 winged dinosaurs -- recent discoveries -- with powerful leg wings but evolved away from them to compete once soaring flight was achieved. If we tried to fly like birds using only our arms of course it wouldn't work. For this idea I think the stroke would be something like the doggy paddle to hover or the crawl or back stroke to move forward or backward. Maybe the butterfly would work too.
JesusHChrist, Feb 17 2005

       Desert -- but climbing stairs we can do pretty easily with only our legs. Flying we would do with every muscle in our bodies -- all used to the extent that they are capable of contributing to the overall effort. The stroke would be very yogic and holistic.
JesusHChrist, Feb 17 2005

       Will humans wait until the last millisecond to take off (loudly, I might add), thereby scaring the living JesusHChrist out of bystanders?
thumbwax, Feb 18 2005

       Er, [Desertfox], I take it you didn't hear about the successful human powered flight across the English Channel, then? (see link)
david_scothern, Feb 19 2005


       I don't think a flight suit will be possible, though.
DesertFox, Feb 19 2005

       Desert, before you dismiss it, look at that Gossamer Condor and how rigid and unlike nature it is, and think of what it was able to achieve. And then think of how swirly and vortical air currents are. We havent even started to make flying machines that are wild like nature yet. Once we do, think of what they will be able to achieve.
JesusHChrist, Feb 19 2005

       Vortical takeoff? (Vortical bloody landing at any rate)
Basepair, Feb 19 2005

JesusHChrist, Feb 19 2005

       pigeons are best at vertical takeoff I believe...
po, Feb 19 2005

       Tortoises are quite good at it too. And the scorch-marks can be polished out quite easily.
Basepair, Feb 19 2005


       And think how good they would be if they had big legs and leg wings. 4 winged dino discoveries say that flight may have started off with all four appendages being wings. If you've ever seen a goose flying from above its amazing how much like the upper half of a human being they look -- as if they were full bodied once but then lost the torso and legs
JesusHChrist, Feb 20 2005

       You must have known some very odd people.
Basepair, Feb 20 2005

       `just noticed link to Vortical research - thanks :-) I don't doubt that vortices and turbulent flow can give some interesting and useful results, but I'm not convinced that they're going to give the order-of-magnitude effects you'd need for human flapping flight. Pheasants seem to work bloody hard just to get off the ground, and things can't get any better as you get bigger (square/cube). So, interesting but not convinced...
Basepair, Feb 21 2005


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