Watch A Flying Dutchman Flap His Arms And Soar Like A Bird, Icarus In Real Life Or Fake?

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Man has long sought a way to soar through the skies like a bird. We can only get airborne with our noisy jet engines, rockets, and propellers… but what if you could simply flap your arms and glide up into the sky? Maybe you can, with a little help from technology developed by the Human Birdwings Project.

Check out their work in the following video…

Pretty incredible. In fact, it almost seems too incredible. This shouldn’t be possible should it? You’d assume anything this impossible and wonderful must be some sort of CGI hoax. Maybe it is but if it is, no one’s actually been able to prove it to be fake yet.

Instead, if you look on the builder’s website you’ll find a pretty good step-by-step detailing of just how they did it. Even the Mythbusters are, apparently, in their corner. Jamie Hynerman, one half of the show’s debunking duo, had this to say about the video on Tested.com: “I don’t see evidence that it was faked. It seems reasonable to accomplish, and is something I have wanted to try for a long time. I am suspicious because there is not much detail shown of the actual machine, but that does not mean anything other than they don’t show it all.”

If this is real, apparently it works with a motor synced up to a pair of Nintendo Wii remote controls. The components in the Wii remotes are used to make the movements of the motor mirror his flapping arm motion. The motors are necessary to move the wings because they’re too heavy to actually flap with your arms and the motion needed to achieve flight is actually kind of a complex rolling while you flap. They demonstrate it a little in this video…

And apparently those Wii Remotes are connected to a cell phone, which in turn tells the motor when to flap…

What do you think? Is this real? And if it’s real… how much do you want your own flight harness?

UPDATE! The mystery deepens. A Dutch journalist who actually interviewed the man “Smeets” in the video, and who actually photographed him with his wings, speaks out here. Though he was initially utterly convinced when they met a few months ago he’s begun to have his doubts. He’s been able to find no evidence of the man’s employment at the engineering firm where he claimed to work and hasn’t been able to reach him since the posting of the successful flight video. Further he points out that it’s strange that the video in which he succeeds in flying is 14/14. How did he know that on the 14th try he’d fly? Yet several CGI experts have now weighed in to counteract some of the early naysayers and insist they see no sign of CGI manipulation in the video. The jury’s still out but the longer Smeets goes without actually speaking up the less and less likely this seems.

UPDATE 2! It looks like we may have an answer to the mysterious video numbering. How did Smeets know that he’d only need 14 videos and thus succeed on his 14/14 attempt? He didn’t. You can rename videos on YouTube after they’ve been posted and there’s some evidence that’s exactly what he did. The video now labeled 13/14 used to be labeled 13/13, for instance. So it looks like he didn’t know he’d only need 14 videos, he’s just been updating the names on his videos as he goes to reflect the total number of videos posted.

UPDATE 3! The video has now been definitively confirmed as a fake. The man claiming to be Jarno Smeets came clean today on Dutch television. He’s actually a CGI artist named Floris Kaayk. As an excuse for his lame stunt he spouts some garbage about doing an online experiment. I’m not buying any of that either. Smells like fame-whoring to me. See the interview in which he comes clean embedded below. Click the CC button to get a translation…


  1. Mark Walters says:

    I want to believe.

  2. It is so easy to make anything look real. It seems pointless to CGI this. I hope it is real, it could actually change the way we commute.