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Dutch birdman admits flight was filmic fantasy

Human-powered flap'n'fly too good to be true, sadly

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The "Flying Dutchman" who enthralled world+dog earlier this week with a video of him flying through the wild blue yonder by flapping homemade wings has admitted that the entire airborne affair was but a hoax.

And so was the name of the supposedly intrepid aviator: "Jarno Smeets" is in actuality a fictional character created by filmmaker and animator Floris Kaayk, who has now admitted on the Dutch TV show De wereld draait door that the flight was – to put it kindly – a filmic fantasy.

His eight-month project, which he titled Human Birdwings, was an "online adventure and invention story," Kaayk explains on his blog. "The intention of this project was to share a personal, yet universal dream about flying like a bird," he writes.

The culmination of Human Birdwings, a video of his bogus birdman soaring over a Dutch park, was effective enough to fool many a viewer, including The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, the International Business Times, and yes, even one of The Reg's own.

We must note, however, that not all of us Reggies succumbed to the seductive dream of human-powered flight. As we noted in an update to our original story of Jarno Smeets, modern-day Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi or Abbas Ibn Firnas, "We strongly suspect that this has no more validity than certain other exotic personal-flight inventions which have been known to entrap journalists in the past."

To be frank, your time-hardened Reg reporter can't summon even a soupçon of righteous indignation over Kaayk's hoax. Although Human Birdwings is, indeed, yet another proof of the old adage that "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is," it was a marvelous hoax, and one that surely entertained the vast majority of the nearly five million people who have viewed the video on YouTube.

Yes, Kaayk fooled the world – or at least a good chunk of it – and yes, he initially refused to admit that the flight was merely a flight of fancy, but we stand behind our statement in The Reg's article on Human Birdwings: "it still looks like a marvellous way to fly." ®

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