I really wanted this video to be real, but alas, after just a few days going viral, the Dutch engineer who shot it has ‘fessed up and admitted the clip was faked.
Then again, I think we all can understand how it became so popular so quickly, as just everyone out there has probably dreamed about flying – without the help of an airplane – at one point in their lives.
Remember, humans have been looking at birds and trying to design a flying mechanism along the lines of bird wings for hundreds of years. So it came as little surprise that a Dutch engineer named Jarno Smeets claimed to have designed a set of flapping wings inspired by an albatross which he used to take to the skies.
According to Smeets’ original claims, the idea to design the wings came from sketches that his grandfather had drawn of a flying bicycle. Somewhere along the way, the engineer says he realized the bicycle would never take to the skies, and instead, turned to creating a set of wings inspired by the albatross and Leonardo da Vinci’s wing drawings. In all fairness, the finished product – even if it is fake – looks very much like something da Vinci would have drawn.
The finished wings are covered with what appears to be a kite fabric that had to be sewn together very carefully and without adding excess weight. The finished wings weighed 37 ounces and the overall wing pack and controls were 40 pounds. The wings use Wii controllers and accelerometers that came out of an HTC wildfire Android phone along with Turnigy electric motors for propulsion. The mechanical wings flap in tune with Smeets’ arms thanks to the Wii controllers. You have to watch the video above to see Smeets take to the skies. The finished product was a very realistic video, even if it looked fake.
As it turns out the video had good reason to look fake, as the man behind the video is Floris Kaayk, a professional Dutch filmmaker and animator. The video – made in cooperation with media production company Revolver – was originally classified as a “media art project.” The hoax went so far as to create a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and a LinkedIn profile claiming that supposed designer Jarno Smeets had previously worked at Philips to lend credence to the video.
So how you feel about this video? It was undeniably cool, but in the end we were all lied to as part of an elaborate hoax.