In 1485, polymath Leonardo da Vinci designed something called an Ornithopter, an early design for a man-powered flying machine. Roughly half a millennium later, moonlighting Cop and friend of MotorPunk, Jeff Bloch, sets out to complete da Vinci’s work. Considering the challenge of man-powered flight alone perhaps a little too easy, Jeff also aims to take his machine racing at the 24 Hours of Lemons.

project arnold the roadgoing helicopter (17)

Da Vinci’s drawing (above) appears to show a delicate, willowy frame, bound with cord and relying on the muscular flapping of some renaissance era athlete to achieve flight. Jeff, ever resourceful, uses the decrepit remains of a Bell attack helicopter, the arse-end of an MX-5 and quite a lot of Toyota.

Some might consider the 220bhp Audi V6 cheating, but this is provided only for propulsion on the road. The machine is 20 feet long, 8 feet high and is a featherweight 1.3 tons. Here are some pictures to prove we’re not making all this up;

Flight will (and Jeff is quite confident about this) be achieved by the co-pilot rotating the blades by hand by means of a steering wheel fitted in the cabin. For reasons I don’t fully understand (I am no polymath) the machine is christened ‘Project Arnold’ and to be crewed by Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalikes.

jeff bloch and a selection of loons

Those looking at the mugshots above and doubting Project Arnold’s engineering integrity, should be assured that da Vinci is sitting on his heavenly cloud, nodding in sage approval and pondering not how it will achieve flight, but how Jeff, like Ikarus, will avoid flying to close to the sun. Sneak preview video below;

We shall publish further details of the success of Project Arnold in due course. Did we mention the twist? It has a twist. I’m not saying anything because the twist is too silly for (even my) words.

Pics; Speedycop and Leonardo da Vinci.

About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich Duisberg* has had work published in Classic & Sportscar, Practical Performance Car, Modern Mini, Banzai, MogMag, Evo, GT Porsche, Complete Kit Car, Absolute Lotus, Alternative Cars, Classic Retro Modern, and elsewhere. Rich often appears on CBS’s XCAR and Carfection channels, and Motors TV, plus JayEmm on Cars, enthusing about historic motoring. His latest book (find his work on Amazon) was described by SniffPetrol as "hilarious", although he was also threatened with legal action by elderly DJ Tim Westwood. In his Midlands man cave is a 1972 Fiat 500, a Lotus Elise, a BMW barge and a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike. Previous machines of interest include an Mk1 MX5 (owned for 14 years!), an Alfa GTV6, a Porsche 968 and a Sinclair C5. The Metro (right) was bought for an experiment, and abandoned in Africa. "I am not getting in a car with him" -  said Le Mans winner, Derek Bell. *A nom-de-plume inspired by the BBC's League of Gentlemen.

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