We’re obsessed with flight. If an airplane flies overhead, our attention immediately switches from what we were doing to the sky. We’ll even stop and watch geese touch down on a pond.
But since we can’t fly like birds, for centuries we’ve tried to find other ways to get as close to personal flight as possible. Jetman, Yves Rossy, continues to push the envelope with his jet-powered wing, most recently flying over the Grand Canyon in May. The University of Maryland built a human-powered helicopter that hovered for 11 seconds in July and set two U.S. records. And the Martin Jetpack has advanced from flying a few feet off the ground (manned) to a test of flying up to 5,000 feet and parachuting down (unmanned).
National Geographic is featuring the quest for personal flight in its September 2011 issue with the article, “If we only had wings.” While the author, Nancy Shute, is a pilot, she writes that flying light general aviation aircraft is as “thrilling as sitting at a card table.” Still, it helped pique her interest in other types of flight, as she explores hang gliding at Kitty Hawk Kites in North Carolina.