Video shows man flying with human bird wings; but is it fake? (Update: Yes, it's fake)

If you've ever watched those 100 year old movies of guys trying to fly using bird-like wings, you probably realized that technique would never work. But now a Dutchman claims to have actually done it, and offers this video as proof. This post has been updated with new information.

Jarno Smeets has a blog and a YouTube channel where he has been chronicling his progress, but now that he has claimed success people are really sitting up and taking notice.

Smeets says that his wings aren't actually human powered, but use electric motors that are activated somehow by a Wiimote and an Android phone that he's holding in his hands.

We have seen flapping wing aircraft that have managed to get off the ground, but experts say that lifting something as heavy as a human would require a vastly greater wing area than Smeets used in the video.

Adding to the believability problems, a bunch of GCI heavyweights have chimed in, with most claiming that the footage is faked. The folks at Industrial Light and Magic point to the blurry fuzzy quality of the image, and the fact that the helmet-mounted GoPro camera hardly moves during the POV shots.

If it is fake, why would someone go to all this effort? (When they do, it's usually a PR stunt.) Surely they know that the gig would be up the moment they were challenged to demonstrate it in public? Some are speculating that it's all part of some viral marketing plan. But if so, for what? Any ideas?

UPDATE: Dutch bird-man Jarno Smeets can't really fly. A tweet from TED's Chris Anderson: "Hoax confirmed. @jarnosmeets80 has just told Dutch TV those bird-wings were simply online storytelling." Gizmodo has more on his admission here. Apparently he's a "a Dutch CGI artist named Floris Kaayk," so Jarno Smeets is just his aerial stage name.

Human Birdwings, via Gizmodo

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