'Bird Man' admits video is a hoax

'Bird Man' Jarno Smeets became an Internet sensation when he posted a video of himself apparently taking flight with a pair of flapping wings. He subsequently admitted that the video was fake. 

In a popular YouTube video, Jarno Smeets claims to have built a set of Wii-controlled bird wings that allowed him to take flight. He later admitted that it was a hoax.

A Dutch man named Jarno Smeets became an Internet sensation this week after posting a video on YouTube in which he appears to fly like a bird. In the video, he straps on a contraption that supposedly syncs the motion of his flapping arms to that of a huge pair of wings made of kite fabric, allowing him to flap the wings and take off into the air.

Except not.

As reported yesterday by Life's Little Mysteries, CGI experts quickly found flaws in the footage of Smeets taking flight that revealed the video clip had been tampered with. Internet marketing experts suggested the video may have been a viral ad campaign — for Nintendo Wii, perhaps, as Smeets claimed to have used Wii controllers to operate his wings. By the end of the day, doubt surrounding the video had soundly overtaken belief in the amazing new invention it seemed to show in action.

And now, the jig is up. Smeets, whose real name is Floris Kaayk, has come clean on Dutch television, admitting that his videos and accompanying blog were nothing more than what he calls "online storytelling."

"I’m actually a filmmaker and animator. I am now eight months working on an experiment about online media,” Kaayk told the press, referring to the fact that he began documenting the fake flying machine project on his blog last summer.

Kaayk also said the hoax was not, in fact, commercially-sponsored.

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover. Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook.

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