… The man who claimed to achieve bird-like flight with a custom-built contraption came clean today: It was a hoax 8 months in the making.
Netherlands artist Floris Kaayk, who went by the name of Jarno Smeets during his “Human Birdwings” project, admitted to the hoax today on a Dutch television program called “De Wereld Draait Door” (“The World is Turning”).
“My name is Floris Kaayk I’m actually a filmmaker and animator. I am now 8 months working on an experiment about online media,” Kaayk told the show, according to a Dutch-to-English translation in a YouTube video. [Updated: The YouTube clip has been removed.] Kaayk said attempted the hoax because “it’s everybody’s dream to fly.”
Kaayk’s website states he was born in Tiel in the Netherlands in 1982. He’s been living in The Hague, where the faked bird-man stunt took place.
Kaayk claims on his website that he graduated with honors from St. Joost Academy and earned a Masters of Fine Arts. The website says he is an animator and a CGI expert who has a self-described fascination with “the world of insect, evolution, technology and dark futuristic visions.”
In 2006, Kaayk created a hoaxed documentary about a fake disease called Metalosis Maligna that causes medical implants to grow and overtake the body.
The hoaxer claims on his website that his films have earned several awards, and that his The Origin of Creatures was the Dutch entry for the Academy Awards in 2011.
“He wanted to chase a dream, as most artists do. He wanted to inspire people and I think he succeeded,” said neuromechanics scientist Bert Otten of the University of Groningen. “As an artist he has succeeded, but he has fooled most of us. We all want to fly, don’t we?”
Kaayk reached out to Otten in August 2011 to ask him about the mechanics of flight. Otten said he was not in on the hoax, and that he believed Kaayk — then “Jarno Smeets” — earnestly wished to fly.
“Although this kind of flight is possible in principle, he must have known early on that it would be impossible for him and that he had to fake it. It’s pretty fantastic that he made us believe that we were on to something.”
The birdwings video started going viral on Tuesday when bloggers and news outlets, including Wired, began gushing over the apparent achievement in human flight. But many observers were skeptical from the start. …