One of mankind’s great dreams is to fly like a bird, and ornithopters have been a staple of fantastical fiction since Leonardo di Vinci drew his first speculative designs. But did you know that planes that flap their wings are a real technology? In 2010, what appears to be the world’s first successful human-powered ornithopter sustained altitude and airspeed for an incredible 19.3 seconds.

Apparently ornithopters have some advantages over fixed-wing planes. They’re more energy efficient, maneuverable, can use shorter runways and even perch on difficult terrain.

So watch this space – a flying machine like the one below might be coming to an airport near you sooner than you think.