THE LIFT EQUATION FOR RIGID WINGS ARE STRAIGHTFORWARD ENOUGH . BUMBLE-BEES ARE FAIRLY BIG , WEIGHING ALMOST A GRAM , AND HAVE A WING AREA OF ABOUT A SQUARE CENTIMETRE . WHEN ALL THE FIGURES ARE COMPUTATED , YOU FIND THAT BEES CANNOT GENERATE ENOUGH LIFT AT THEIR TYPICAL FLYING SPEED .

>I HAVE TO BE AT THE ZENITH OF HUMAN CONDITIONING IF THIS IS GOING TO WORK . FASTER , HIGHER , STRONGER . NOTHING HAS BEEN LEFT TO CHANCE . MY DIET , MY EXERCISE , MY SLEEP , EVEN MY URINATION AND EXCRETION HAS BEEN PLANNED AND CAREFULLY TIMETABLED .

AN INSECTS WING WORKS BY ENCOURAGING AIR TO FLOW OVER IT IN SUCH A WAY THAT WHEN THE AIR LEAVES THE REAR EDGE OF THE WING IT MOVES DOWNWARDS . THE RESULTANT EDDY PRODUCES AN UPWARD THRUST ON THE WING .

>I RUN TWENTY MILES A DAY . IN THE LAB ON A TREADMILL OF COURSE , SO THAT ALL OF THE NECESSARY DATA CAN BE PROCESSED . I DON’T DOUBT MY PHYSICAL ABILITY , IT’S JUST THAT IT ALL GETS SO TEDIOUS . I YEARN TO BE RUNNING BAREFOOT THROUGH THE TREES , DODGING IN AND OUT OF BRANCHES, CHASING AFTER RABBITS.

UNFORTUNATELY, IT TAKES TIME TO PRODUCE A GOOD EDDY , AND THE WING HAS TO MOVE A DISTANCE A FEW TIMES ITS LENGTH TO GET THINGS STARTED .

>TODAY THEY TOLD ME ABOUT THE GRAFTS . APPARENTLY , IT TAKES FOUR YEARS TO GROW A SET OF WINGS BIG ENOUGH TO CARRY A HUMAN . THEY TAKE A DRAGONFLY FEOTUS , AND EXTRACT THE DNA SPECIFIC TO ITS WING GROWTH . THE WINGS ARE THEN GROWN FOR THE FIRST YEAR IN A PETRE DISH . ONCE LARGE ENOUGH , THEY ARE GRAFTED ONTO A SUCESSION OF BIGGER AND BIGGER ANIMALS . EACH ONE ,LIKE ME , IS A PERFECT SPECIMIN , AND THEY PUMP THEM FULL OF GROWTH HORMONES . THEY ARE FORCED TO EXERCISE CONSTANTLY BY VARIOUS MEANS , TO KEEP THEIR WINGS HEALTY . AT LEAST I HAVE THE BIGGEST CAGE OUT OF THE LOT OF THEM .

THE MAXIMUM TRAVEL OF A WING IS ROUGHLY ITS LENGTH , AND VERY LITTLE LIFT IS GENERATED FOR MOST OF THE STROKE . NATURE HAS COME UP WITH A NUMBER OF INTERESTING SOLUTIONS TO THIS PROBLEM , OF WHICH THE “CLAP-FLING” IS A GOOD EXAMPLE .

>ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN GRAFTED TO MY ARMS , I WILL BE ALLOWED SOME REST BEFORE RETURNING TO THE EXERCISE PROGRAM . WHEN I’M BACK UP TO FULL STRENGTH , THEN I START TO TRY OUT THE WINGS . JUST FLAPPING THEM GENTLY AT FIRST , LEARNING HOW TO BUILD UP THE RYTHYM .

WHEN A BEE WANTS TO TAKE OFF , IT NEEDS A LOT OF LIFT.

>I’M READY NOW. THEY HAVE JUST GIVEN ME THE INJECTIONS.

IT THEREFORE BRINGS ITS WINGS TOGETHER ABOVE ITS BACK SO THAT THEY CLAP .

>I JUST HOPE THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK .

THIS THEN EXPELLS THE AIR FROM BETWEEN THEM .

>THEY THINK THAT NOW I’VE MASTERED THEIR USE , I WILL BE READY TO TRY THE “CLAP-FLING” .

WHEN THE WINGS THEN SEPARATE , AIR IS QUICKLY DRAWN IN TO FILL THE VOID . THE WINGS ARE FLUNG APART AND LIFT IS GENERATED IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE THE AIR IS ALREADY MOVING IN THE CORRECT WAY .

>NOT EXACTLY WHAT YOU WOULD CALL A SUCCESS . THEY HAVE PROMISED ME THAT BECAUSE OF THE GREAT LEAPS FORWARD THEY HAVE MADE IN THE COURSE OF THIS EXPERIMENT , IT WILL ONLY TAKE ANOTHER TWO YEARS TO GROW ME A NEW PAIR OF ARMS .

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