Segments in this Video

Introduction: Why Icarus Can't Fly (03:39)


When the craftsman Daedalus and son Icarus were imprisoned on an island, Daedalus made a pair of wings to escape, but Icarus flew too close to the sun and the wax wings fell apart. People have always tried to understand flight, exploring the diversity of birds and the origin of wings.

Dragonfly Flight (08:37)

As the oldest flying animal, the dragonfly has a complex flight mechanism enabling them to flap each wing independently, travel backwards, and use a rowing motion to hover. The wings are made of strong chitin, with crossed veins in a membrane. Scientists are still learning about the insect’s flight and cannot replicate it.

Bernoulli's Principle and Bees (04:43)

Flying insects stay in flight due to the principles of lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Dr. Cleofas Cervancia disproves the myth that based on the principles of aerodynamics, bumblebees should not be able to fly.

Wing Morphology and Butterflies (06:27)

Insects have specialized wing muscles and a continuous flow of oxygen. Butterfly wings are transparent with iridescent overlapping scales; they use multiple flight patterns. Butterflies are highly diverse due to their ability to fly long distances to find mates and food.

Bird Vision and Bone Structure (07:46)

Juan Carlos Gonzales explains that as birds move through air, air moves around the wings, creating lift. Eagles and other large birds have long wingspans adapted for soaring, and binocular vision which allows them to see far away. Bird bodies are streamlined.

Bird Muscles and Feathers (06:55)

Unlike insects, bird muscles work directly on the bone; all muscles are useful for flight. Feathers are strong enough to withstand resistance; birds preen and molt to maintain an airtight wing. Feathers attach to a long piece of keratin and to each other with barbs; birds use their beaks to keep the barbs locked.

Flightless Birds (03:07)

Gonzales argues that even though some birds have minimal flying ability, each bird is adapted to its needs and environment. Chickens make quick bursts of flight which help them escape predators, and penguins use their flight muscles for swimming.

Microraptor and the Origin of Birds (05:43)

Some scientists argue that birds originate from a running and flapping terrestrial ancestor, while others think they have a tree-dwelling ancestor which took flight from branches. Paleontologists discovered fossils of a dinosaur with four wings which supports the arboreal theory that the first birds lived in trees.

Credits: Why Icarus Can't Fly (01:53)

Credits: Why Icarus Can't Fly

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Why Icarus Can't Fly

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film is a discovery of the secrets and wonders of how living things fly, from the flying styles and patterns of the oldest flyer in the world—the dragonfly—to arguably the most beautiful insect flyer: the butterfly. We look into the bumblebee myth; is it true that bees, technically, cannot fly? Of course, we mustn't forget our feathered friends, from the expert flyer of all time, the eagle; to the poor flyer, the chicken; and to the no-flyer, the kiwi. Although airplanes and helicopters have been modeled after birds' and insects' flight characteristics, the origin of flight remains a mystery to scientists and paleontologists worldwide. The film also features the amazing discovery of a four-winged dinosaur unearthed in Liaoning province in northeastern China. Did birds originally fly up from the ground or down from the trees?

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL150316

ISBN: 978-1-64347-710-7

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.