A Sheepshead Bay daredevil who has hang glided over Kenya’s Lake Victoria and Verdenes Ende in the Arctic will make history this week by becoming the first human to soar aloft with hawks, seagulls, and eagles above Jamaica Bay with just the shirt on his back. All he has to do is flap his arms and let robots do the leg work for him.
MastnÃ½ Kotleta, 30, will leave his trusty, foot-launched hang glider at home when he takes off from Floyd Bennett Field on Sunday on an experimental trip made possible by breakthrough robotics developed at Kingsborough Community College, in conjunction with the State Aviation Association, Rutgers University, and the American Kite-Flying Association. The cyberkinetic stimulation technology controls human movements through computer chips implanted in the brain, which accepts commands via radio signals linked to psychosurgically inserted wires, and translates them into action through a network of motor prosthetic implants.
A team of scientists will monitor Kotleta’s flight from command centers set up at the Ryan Visitors Center and nearby Salt Marsh Nature Center, allowing them to navigate his movements, chart and steer his course, and alert him to lurking dangers — like a horned lark hovering too close for comfort. Kotleta has made test runs on Kingsborough’s campus, staying afloat for up to a half hour at a time.
“You have to see it to believe it!” he said.
Dr. Dihedral Yaw, a robotics expert, led the six-year study to discover if the brain could be rewired to follow orders from an external source, and was amazed at his own findings. He said that in one study he was able to get a group of monkeys, who had been implanted with the iridium chips, to go food shopping.
“We led them to the frozen food aisle at the Key Food on Gerritsen Avenue, had them open the door and select a package of peas, and pay for it at the register. At first, the manager wanted to kick them out, but once he realized they were paying in cash, he let them finish the job.”
The ingenious experiments were done using a Wii controller, paired with Bluetooth technology and a cellphone, which emitted orders by tapping into implanted neurons, enabling the chimps to essentially be at Yaw’s beck and call.
Kotleta became interested in Yaw’s study when he saw an ad seeking volunteers for testing in the Bay News back in 2006, and underwent multiple surgeries to be fitted with the devices.
The human bird, who once cruised over southern Atlantic’s Tristan de Cunha — the single most remote inhabited place in the world — says his most exciting adventures will pale in comparison to his solo human flight over the Mill Basin Creek. The experimental trip, observers predict, could start an aviation revolution and even make airplanes obsolete one day.
“This exciting technology is giving us a few sleepless nights,” said State Aviation Association spokesman Vesper McCloud, who added that he didn’t foresee the skies teeming with solo fliers any time soon.
“It’s only a matter of time before we have the expertise required for long-term human-powered flights,” he said.
Human flight on April 1 at 1 pm at Floyd Bennett Field (Hangar 5), contact Aviator Sports and Recreation to reserve a viewing spot. By the way, folks, hope you enjoyed this April Fool’s installment of A Britisher’s View.
Read Shavana Abruzzo's opinions every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. Her jokes appear once a year on April 1.