Video Of Man Flying Like A Bird Has The Internet Crying Hoax

By Megan O'Neill 

By now you may have already seen the video of a man flying like a bird with custom-built wings.  The video, which features a Dutch man named Jarno Smeets achieving flight with a sweet winged contraption, has been viewed over 2.5 million times since it hit YouTube on Monday, but as much as we all want this to be real, it’s looking more and more like the video is a hoax.

For those of you who haven’t seen the video yet, check it out below before we get into why people think it’s a hoax and see what you think.

When the video first started to take off, many online news sources, including TechCrunch, reported on the video as if it was real.  However, over the course of the next day more and more people started questioning the videos authenticity.

Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters got the ball rolling when he published his thoughts on the mechanics of assisted human flight.  He writes, “The video of Jarno Smeets’ flight is cool, and I don’t see evidence that it was faked.  It seems reasonable to accomplish, and is something I have wanted to try for a long time.  I am suspicious because there is not much detail shown of the actual machine, but that does not mean anything other than they don’t show it all.”  Hyneman then goes on to explain how, theoretically, this could be real.

Unsatisfied, Gizmodo reached out to Ryan Martin of Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas’ CGI team.  Martin had the following to say:

“Okay, so I don’t see any glaring visual problems, but that’s expected when the quality is as shitty as this.  But that’s the first thing that makes me question its authenticity.  They’re able to afford to build this thing, but can’t invest in proper video equipment, or… a tripod.  If I were to make a fake video with the intention of going viral, I would make certain that the quality was as poor as possible to disguise any flaws in poor cg work.  Another big visual issue I have with this video is the stability of his head during flight.  Try and keep your head that still while waving your arms up and down when they aren’t attached to a giant wing contraption.  Still, it seems almost too crazy to be fake and I was unable to find any other glaring flaws with the video.”

While Gizmodo was polling CGI experts, Wired was on the hunt to find out more about Jarno Smeets.  It appears that nobody knows who Jarno Smeets is.  According to his LinkedIn page, Smeets worked at Pailton Steering Systems from 2008 to 2010.  However, “John Nollett, the group managing director for Pailton Engineering Limited, said there is no record of anyone by such a name.”  Nollet told Wired, “We checked with all of our divisions globally and nobody knows him.  He’s never worked for us in any of our locations.  Nobody knows him.”

Smeets does have a Twitter account, which he links to from his video descriptions.  However, the feed went quiet after people started calling the video a hoax.  At the time this article was written, Smeets’ last tweet was eighteen hours ago and reads, “Literally swamped with mails and messages, thanks for all the nice words, comments and suggestions!”

So what do you think?  Is the video a hoax?  We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.