Some Whys of the Manithopter

Much has been done over the centuries attempting a Manithopter, not much of it particularly practical.  Human power has worked for an ornithopter recently, and while it is a gorgeous piece of engineering, practical it is not with wings the size of a 747, in mortal danger of the slightest breeze, and maybe more scarily surrounded by grad students.  

Large powered man carrying ornithopters have worked, but not elegantly, nor lacking in wheels and weight, and tend to kill their inventors.  No success is evident in making a man carrier in ultralight form, that can be easily set up and flown, designed for legs as landing gear.  

Practical sized, or I should say, compellingly small sized wings lead to higher wing loading and stall airspeed, and yet more important to realize the need to run and land faster than human legs would allow, with 100 lbs of gear on your back.  Imagine how far you could comfortably jump down with that kind of weight on you.  Off a chair maybe?  Now imagine dropping ten feet and hitting the ground running at 25 mph.  No thanks!

This happily leads to the need for a practical exoskeleton to augment our pilot.  We will have to stiffen things up substantially in the leg department, or more precisely, from heels to shoulders.  I think the only thing I’ve thought about more than actuators and propulsion is light and practical exoskeletons.  Far more on that soon, but the thought I'll leave with you is that this part of the project alone will start us off on a wild ride!

This entire device needs to be so robust and simple that it will survive one hundred and plenty attempts at flight.  Flying must be learned by long practice and a proper takeoff run, not jumping off a giant Red Bull can once, break your legs and equipment and make the nutty inventor highlight reel.

Consider that we'll give ourselves complete control of the shape, pitch, dihedral and camber of our wings, which is not a skill set we are born with, and neither are birds born knowing how.  

I think I will make a giant model bird nest and only allow my pilot to dance around the rim for the first few weeks.