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FlyPower in History

The origins of FlyPowered aircraft remain one of the great unsolved mysteries in insect aviation. A clay tablet unearthed outside the historical city of Ur in modern-day Syria describes the functioning of a fly's wings but gives no reference to transposing that into any kind of air-powered vehicle. It has been dated to 2430 BC.

Hieroglyphics from Egypt during the reign of Nefru (1650 BC) chronicle the fly and how its extraordinary abilities might in some way provide clues to the pharaoh's journey into the afterlife. Again, no reference is made to any form of craft styled after flies, but Egyptologists continue to unearth more writings concerning the high priests' near obsession with the concept.

The current designs for FlyPowered aircraft began in earnest during the 1940s in California. Two eminent scientists, Dr. Tim Sharon and Dr. Richard Brewer, published a paper on the subject, tracing the design and discovery of FlyPower, in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. Dr. Brewer is given credit for manufacturing the first prototype fly-powered airplane in 1949. It used balsa wood for the fuselage and cellophane from Lucky Strike cigarette packages for the wings.

Reportedly, Dr. Brewer's prototype plane was delivered to the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum during the 1960s. An article in Smithsonian magazine in September 1978 gave details of the acquisitions and sparked a renewed interest in FlyPower. We were previously unaware of the whereabouts of these planes until we received the following letter from a viewer on June 18th. Greg Norton wrote to tell us:

I forget where I first heard about fly-powered models...possibly in a model-airplane magazine. Anyway, I am fascinated by all things airborne, from albatrosses to zeppelins, and I always got a chuckle when I heard about these things. You mentioned in your history section that you weren't sure what had happened to two planes that were sent to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Guess where they are? ON DISPLAY! The last few times I've been there (less than a year ago), there have been two models on display, a single-engine and a "twin!" I forget whether the twin was an in-line or would you "sync up" the two flies to get the thing to go straight?!!! Anyway, they can be located in the model-airplane display case near the entrance to the gift shop. Look on the side farthest from the shop. That's it! I just wanted to let you know that the planes that started it all are being given their due respect in our nation's capital. Sincerely, Greg Norton.

Thanks Greg! For all the rest of you who thought we were full of s*#t, see...this stuff is for real!

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