Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Whitfield Pteranodon

On the 13th March this year I was contacted by Roger Bentley of the University of Reading who was involved in closing down an engineering company.  He had in his possession the original flying pteranodon model used by George Whitfield to evaluate the findings of the Bramwell and Whitfield paper on the Biomechanics of Pteranodon.

The glider was designed to be an accurate representation of the Pterosaur, having a 7 meter wingspan.  Wing movement was originally controlled by servers and wires which adjusted the wings and legs to give flexion to the fabric wing membrane. The model has some repairs where the structure was damaged or modified during test flights.

This was the first controllable flying model of a pterosaur and I thought this model had been destroyed in 1974, but it was dismantled in an attic store room, a little worse for wear.

After a few E-mails, Dave Martill took up the gauntlet and went to collect the model which is now residing at Portsmouth University, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

There are also some wonderful photographs of the tests, but I am unable to publish them without copyright permission.

Bramwell C. D. and Whitfield G. R., 1974, Biomechanics of Pteranodon, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B. 267


  1. The images I have are digital - the copyright is with the photographer who took them recently, so the 70 years after death rule applies in the UK. Since publishing this blog, I have been granted permission for some photographs, which appear in later blogs. Oh to have the originals, which are held by the family and friends.