Aeronautical engineer James DeLaurier's oneseat ornithopter recently flapped its way into the air (with a boost from a small jet engine), climbed about 3 ft above the ground, and sustained flight for 1,200 ft and 14 sec.
The craft returned to the runway and tipped over onto its nose, damaging the gear, apparently the result of crosswinds. Still beating the Wright Brothers' first flight by 2 sec was good enough for DeLaurier.
"It's a perfect day," he said. "If I have the big one now, I'll die happy." The pilot, Jack Sanderson, was fine. DeLaurier says the ornithopter will likely be repaired and then retired to a museum. To fly farther, it would need bigger wings and roll-control modification, he said. And that would require a bigger source of money.