AERONAUTICS: Ornithopter

Down a sunny street in St. Augustine, Fla., sped an automobile excitedly tooting and towing a fantastic bicycle. Fourteen-foot wings flapped great currents of air on either side of it. Flushed, intense, George White sat optimistically astride his invention. He pedalled furiously to force the wings to a rate of 100 flaps per minute, cast off from the car, rose gracefully in air. Like some prehistoric monster, the ornithopter, wings glistening in sunlight, described a gigantic parabola and came, back to earth. It had traveled eight-tenths of a mile in one minute and 36 seconds (rate of 30 m.p.h.).

Inventor White, satisfied,...