A Guide to the James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers, 1906-1998


Archives & Special Collections
College of Staten Island Library, CUNY
2800 Victory Blvd., 1L-216
Staten Island, NY 10314

© 2003 The College of Staten Island, CUNY

Finding Aid by Catherine N. Carson


Overview of the Collection

Collection No. : CM-4
Title: James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers
Creator: James L. G. Fitz Patrick, 1906-1998
Dates: 1906-1998
Extent: 1.65 Linear Feet
Abstract: James L. G. Fitz Patrick (1906-1998) was part of the original faculty and served as Head of the Department of Mechanical Technology at the inception of Staten Island Community College in 1956. Fitz Patrick was appointed the first Academic Dean of the college in 1959. He became Dean of the College for Operations and Development in 1971 and retired in 1976. Fitz Patrick was an authority in the field of natural flight and aeronautics, and ultimately constructed a working ornithopter. Fitz Patrick was also active in the Staten Island community and in Roman Catholic religious organizations. The collection focuses on Fitz Patrick's research interests and includes new clippings, research publications, video and photographs.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers, Archives & Special Collections, Department of the Library, College of Staten Island, CUNY, Staten Island, New York.

Acquisition

The vast majority of the collection was donated to the College of Staten Island by James L. G. Fitz Patrick's stepson, Harold J. Smith, in 2000. A small number of newsclippings were donated by Peter Spiridon, a former colleague at Staten Island Community College. James L. G. Fitz Patrick also donated several of his research publications to the College Archives prior to his retirement in 1976.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Catherine N. Carson.

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Restrictions

Access

Access to this record group is unrestricted.

Copyright Notice

The researcher assumes full responsibility for compliance with laws of copyright. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Coordinator of Archives & Special Collections.

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Biographical Sketch

James L. G. Fitz Patrick, the son of Joseph and Mary Fitz Patrick, was born in the Grand Central Station area of Manhattan on July 23, 1906. He was a noted engineer, scientist, aviator, artist, humanitarian, philosopher, academician and educator with strong faith and religious convictions.1

Fitz Patrick earned bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from Manhattan College, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1929 and his master's degree in 1931.2He also pursued post-graduate studies at New York University and Fordham University.3

James L. G. Fitz Patrick's career in education spanned forty-six years. He moved to Staten Island in 1930 and taught science at St. Peter's Boys High School in New Brighton from 1930-1938.4In 1938, he received his teaching license in Applied Physics for service in day secondary schools other than junior high schools.5He later taught at Textile High School in Manhattan, eventually becoming Head of the Mechanical Arts Department and Curriculum Department and serving as a student counselor and General Assistant to the Principal.6At the founding of Staten Island Community College in 1956, Fitz Patrick was part of the faculty and served as Head of the Department of Mechanical Technology.7He was appointed the first Academic Dean of the college in 1959, serving as Dean of the Faculty and acting under the college president in administering the academic program. He also coordinated a large part of the planning for the college's campus in Sunnyside, completed in 1967.8Fitz Patrick became Dean of the College for Operations and Development in 1971 and held that position until his retirement in 1976.9

Fitz Patrick was a member of many educational and engineering associations. He had a particular interest in railroads, natural flight, aviation and aeronautics. A licensed pilot, he completed a solo flight in a Piper Cub in 1931. During World War II, he served as an executive officer of the Staten Island Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, a civil defense organization, and was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.10A long-time member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, he was a life-member and past chairman of the New York City Chapter of the American Society of Tool and Manufacturing Engineers.11

Fitz Patrick's greatest research project focused on the ornithopter. The ornithopter is a type of aircraft that relies on the movement of flapping wings for lift, thrust and flight. Fitz Patrick sought to develop the ornithopter as a safer and more efficient means of transportation than automobiles and other types of aircraft. Ideally, the ornithopter would need little room for take off and landing and be more fuel efficient than other aircraft due to its folding wings and gliding capabilities. The difficulty of converting the technology of natural flight and beating wings into a functional ornithopter is an ongoing challenge in the field.12Fitz Patrick's work on the ornithopter spanned several decades, ending only after he suffered a stroke in 1992. Fitz Patrick studied natural flight, especially in birds, and conducted experiments in his home and at Princeton University's Forrestal Flight Research Center.13Fitz Patrick experimented with flow studies, gliders, model wings, beating wing free flight devices, swinging arm studies, hand dynamometers and full-scale ornithopters, and he did complete a successful ornithopter flight late in his research career.14The full-scale ornithopter was stored at Princeton University for many years, but unfortunately it has been lost.15Fitz Patrick was considered a leading authority on natural flight and aeronautics in the United States during his lifetime and contributed to the field through papers, presentations and membership in professional organizations.16

Fitz Patrick was also involved in the Staten Island community and in Roman Catholic religious organizations. He was a life member and also served as president of the Knights of Columbus, and was created a Grand Knight Commander of Manresa in 1974.17He was involved in his local parish, St. Peter's in New Brighton, and the First Friday Club, a Catholic laymen's club, where he had served as president. He was also active at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto. Fitz Patrick served as president for the Mission's Board of Trustees for seven years, retiring in 1988, and was honored with the Father Drumgoole Award and a shrine dedicated in the names of he and his late wife Helen Fitz Patrick in 1989.18He was on the Board of Trustees at St. Vincent's Medical Center, where he helped to plan the St. Elizabeth Seton Wing and to oversee construction of the Cardinal Cooke Pavilion. The medical center honored Fitz Patrick by presenting him with the St. Elizabeth Seton award and by naming a wing of the hospital after him in 1979.19Fitz Patrick served as president of the Staten Island Rotary Club and was named a "Rotary Giant" in 1996.20Fitz Patrick was a trustee at the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, and he was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Staten Island Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Board of Mangers of the Executive Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, Community Planning Board Number 3 and the Hospital Advisory Committee of USPHS Hospital.21

James L.G. Fitz Patrick married Helen M. Kenny on August 19, 1930.22Helen Kenny Fitz Patrick died in 1985, and James L. G. Fitz Patrick married Mary Murray Smith in 1992. The Smith and Fitz Patrick families had known each other since the 1940's. Mary Murray Smith Fitz Patrick predeceased James L.G. Fitz Patrick in 1998. Fitz Patrick had four stepchildren from his second marriage - Harold Smith, Robert Smith, Stephen Smith, and Mary Ellen Smith.

James L.G. Fitz Patrick died on March 22, 1998, at the age of 91.

Notes

  1. Raymond A. Wittek, "Profile: James L.G. Fitz Patrick," Staten Island Advance, February 19, 1995, A17, A25; and Michael Danza, "James L.G. Fitz Patrick, 91, Educator, Inventor (Obituary)," Staten Island Advance, March 24, 1998, Obituary Section.
  2. Wittek, A25; and James L. G. Fitz Patrick, Notebook 1926-1982. James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers, Archives & Special Collections, Department of the Library, College of Staten Island, CUNY, Staten Island, New York.
  3. "Fitz Patrick Named First Dean," Staten Island Advance, June 17, 1959.
  4. Danza, "Obituary"; and Wittek, A25.
  5. "The Teaching Staff," New York Times, September 13, 1938, 46.
  6. "Mount Loretto Will Honor 3 with Drumgoole Award," Staten Island Advance, April 6, 1989; "Fitz Patrick named First Dean"; Wittek, p. A25.
  7. "Fitz Patrick named First Dean"; and Wittek, A25; and Staten Island Community College Catalog 1958.
  8. "Fitz Patrick named First Dean"; and Wittek A25.
  9. "On the Retirement of Jim Fitz Patrick" Tavern-On-The-Green, Staten Island, NY, Friday December 19, 1975; and Wittek, A25.
  10. Wittek, A17, A25.
  11. "On the Retirement of Jim Fitz Patrick" and "Fitz Patrick named First Dean".
  12. Douglas Colligan, "The Ornithopter," Technology Illustrated, Endpage Section, August/September 1982, 96; and William Robbins, "These Two Men Think They Can Fly Like Birds," Esquire, March, 1968, 154-159, and Wittek, A25.
  13. Wittek, A25; and Colligan, 96.
  14. James L. G. Fitz Patrick, "Natural Flight and Aeronautics Project 1934-1984," College of Staten Island Archives. James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers, Archives & Special Collections, Department of the Library, College of Staten Island, CUNY, Staten Island, New York.; p. 2; and Wittek, A25; and Danza, "Obituary".
  15. Harold J. Smith, phone conversation with author of the finding aid, May 7, 2003.
  16. "On the Retirement of Jim Fitz Patrick"; and P.H. Spenser in Robbins, 154.
  17. Ralph J. Lamberti, "Office of the President of the Borough of Staten Island City of New York Proclamation" April 13, 1989, Fitz Patrick Papers, College of Staten Island Archives James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers, Archives & Special Collections, Department of the Library, College of Staten Island, CUNY, Staten Island, New York; and Joseph C. Towle, "Knights of Mount Manresa" Award, October 11, 1974, Fitz Patrick Papers, College of Staten Island Archives Department of Special Collections & Archives, College of Staten Island, CUNY.
  18. Adam Friend, "Mt. Loretto Board President is Honored," Staten Island Advance, June 28, 1989, A11; and "Mount Loretto will Honor 3 with Drumgoole Award"; and Wittek, A17, A25.
  19. Wittek, A25; and "Proclamation," 1989.
  20. Danza, "Obituary"; and Wittek, A25.
  21. "On the Retirement of Jim Fitz Patrick"
  22. Fitz Patrick. Notebook 1926-1982.

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Scope & Content Note

The James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers include news clippings, articles, research papers, correspondence, notebooks, awards, programs, photographs and video materials. The papers contain materials from the early 20th century through 1998, but the majority of the materials cover the time period from 1952-1987. The records are described at the subseries level. The finding aid does contain notes on folder contents and literary productions are listed by title at the item level. Harold J. Smith, Fitz Patrick's stepson, donated the majority of the materials contained in the Fitz Patrick papers in 2000. James L. G. Fitz Patrick also provided copies of many of his research works and the 1973-1974 film on ornithopters to the college archives prior to his retirement in 1976. A small number of magazine articles on James L. G. Fitz Patrick were donated by Peter Spiridon and additional news clippings on Fitz Patrick have been added by archives staff.

For better physical control, books donated by Harold J. Smith were removed from the James L. G. Fitz Patrick Papers and cataloged and shelved with the Archives & Special Collections book collection. These books are listed at the end of the finding aid.

The main focus of the papers is Fitz Patrick's research on ornithopters, natural flight and aeronautics. The two articles in Box 1 Folder 2 deal with Fitz Patrick's research activities and provide a good overview of his work in the field. There is one research notebook (1926-1982) with a subject index. There are research-related writings covering the time period of 1934-1974 with the majority covering 1952-1974. There are also more than 500 photographs documenting Fitz Patrick's ornithopter research projects. Most photographs document Fitz Patrick's full-scale ornithopter models but there are also several photographs of glider models. The majority of the photographs were taken 1970-1987 and many have labels and notations by Fitz Patrick. There is also video material related to Fitz Patrick's research activities (1973-1974, 1990s). The correspondence in the collection, with the exception of the 1991 letter from Mr. Freedburg, generally served as cover pages for mailed items and does not go into depth regarding Fitz Patrick's research activities. The collection also includes copies of articles, research reports and patents collected by Fitz Patrick for research purposes.

There is a limited amount of biographical material and Fitz Patrick's activities in the civic and church communities are not well documented within the papers. There are also several photographs of James L. G. Fitz Patrick and his family in the collection but many are unidentified and undated. The materials in Series 1: Biographical Materials include various news clippings and articles, of these, the 1995 Profile from the Staten Island Advancein Box 1 Folder 4 is the best single source of biographical information on Fitz Patrick within the papers. There is some information regarding Fitz Patrick's activities on the Advisory Committee of the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital (1964-1966 only) contained in Box 1 Folder 11. Otherwise, most information regarding his civic and church community involvement is contained within the news clippings, retirement program and awards in Series 1: Biographical Materials and Series 2: Awards. There are no personal files documenting civic or church community activities in the papers.

There are limited materials related to Fitz Patrick's career as a teacher and administrator contained within the papers. There is a 1937 course paper written on curriculum adjustment in secondary schools titled "Can this be the Future of Saint Peter's High School?" outlining the situation at the high school where Fitz Patrick was teaching at the time. The papers also contain a copy of an undated lesson plan book (c. 1956). There is a videocassette containing a 1975 interview with Fitz Patrick made around the time of his retirement from Staten Island Community College. Additional information regarding Fitz Patrick's career at Staten Island Community College is contained with the college archives in the Archives & Special Collections Department at the College of Staten Island.

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Arrangement

The Fitz Patrick papers are divided into eight series and several subseries:

BIOGRPAPHICAL MATERIALS
AWARDS
CORRESPONDENCE
NOTEBOOKS
LITERARY PRODUCTIONS
-Productions on Natural Flight and Aeronautics
-Other Productions
RESEARCH MATERIALS
PHOTOGRAPHS
-Ornithopter and Related Photographs
-Family and Personal Photographs
VIDEOS

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Related Material

The books listed below have been separately cataloged and are shelved in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

Reay, D.A. The History of Man Powered Flight. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1977.

Sweeney, T.E., W. B. Nixon and S. A. Weissenburger. The Princeton-Fairchild Ornithopter Model Research Program Volume 1: Wind Tunnel Tests. Princeton University Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences, 1971.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms. Manuscipt collections are not included in the College of Staten Island's library catalog at this time.

Subject Names

Fitz Patrick, James L. G., 1906-1998

Subject Topics

Flight
Ornithopters

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Series Descriptions & Container Listing

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1938-1998. 5 Folders.
This series contains biographical material relating to James L. G. Fitz Patrick including news clippings, articles, an extensive profile and Fitz Patrick's obituary (1938, 1968, 1982, 1989, 1995, and 1998). There are also copies of Fitz Patrick's retirement dinner program (1975).
Box# Folder# Title
1 1 Miscellaneous, 1959, 1976
1 2 Articles, 1968, 1982, 1984
1 3 Mount Loretto, 1989
1 4 Newsclippings, 1938, 1995-1998
1 5 Retirement Dinner Program, 1975
Series 2: Awards, 1974-1989. 3 Folders.
This series contains copies of awards presented to Fitz Patrick by the Knights of Columbus (1974) and the Institute of Industrial Engineers (1986) and a Proclamation from the Borough President of Staten Island upon Fitz Patrick's receipt of the Drumgoole Award (1989). There are news clippings regarding Fitz Patrick's receipt of the Drumgoole Award in Series 1: Biographical Materials Box 1 Folder 3 "Fitz Patrick, Mount Loretto"
Box# Folder# Title
1 6 Grand Knight Commander of Manresa Award (Knights of Columbus), 1974
1 7 Institute of Industrial Engineers Award, 1986
1 8 Borough President's Proclamation, 1989
Series 3: Correspondence, 1926-1991. 4 Folders.
This series contains a letter to the New York Times regarding speed records for continental crossings by trains (1926) and correspondence regarding patents (1962), the USPHS Hospital (1964-1966) and ornithopters and aeronautics (1954-1980, 1991). Items enclosed with the correspondence are filed with the corresponding correspondence.
Box# Folder# Title
1 9 Letter to New York Times, 1926
1 10 Memoranda Regarding Patents, 1962
1 11 U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, 1964-1966
1 12 Personal Correspondence, 1916, 1932-1933, n.d.
3 13 Letter About Ornithopter, 1991
Series 4: Personal and Family Papers, 1860-1933.
Included in this series are religious paraphenalia, including prayer card, a guide to Calvary Cemetery, and a tract on St. Anthony of Padua. One folder contains a souvenir packet of postcards featuring the grounds of the World Columbian Expostition in Chicago, 1893. A good amount of material belonged to Joseph Fitz Patrick, James's father, including a building permit from the Tenement House Department of New York City and political memorabilia from Benjamin Harrison's and Horace Greeley's presidential campaigns.
Box# Folder# Title
1 13 Religious Material, 1860, 1920, 1931, n.d.
1 14 Family Papers & Realia, 1872, 1892, 1916, n.d.
1 15 World's Columbian Exposition Postcards, 1893
1 16 Personal Miscellany & Realia, 1917, 1932
1 17 Life insurance policy, 1933
1 18 St. Peter's High School material, [1930s]
1 19 Notes, n.d.
     
Series 5: Notebooks, 1926-1982. .0825 Cubic Feet.
This series includes personal notebooks. The first (1926-1982) consists mostly of research notes but also includes some thoughts on philosophy. Fitz Patrick indexed this notebook by subject. The series also includes a notebook with class notes and various other notes and drawings (c. 1928-1940) and an undated, unidentified lesson plan book (c. 1956).
Box# Folder# Title
1 20 Notebook, 1926-1982
1 21 From Scrapbook, Miscellaneous Reports, Notes, Drawings and Receipts 1928-1940
2 1 Lesson Book, c. 1956
Series 6: Literary Productions, 1934-1991. .0825 Cubic Feet.
This series contains research publications and papers written, translated or presented by James L. G. Fitz Patrick. The majority of the papers and publications in the series deal with aeronautics, natural flight and the ornithopter.
Series 6- Subseries A: Productions on Natural Flight and Aeronautics, 1934-1974, 1984. .0825 Cubic Feet.
This subseries includes productions on natural flight, aeronautics and the ornithopter. The majority of the productions in the subseries are part of Fitz Patrick's series of articles on "Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics". The first article in this series was written in 1951 and supplements and status reports are available through 1974. The series also includes an overview of the Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics Project (1934-1984), a translation of a 1925 article on bird flight (1948) and a paper on the design and construction of a full-scale ornithopter (1960). Extra copies of graphs used in these publications are included at the end of the subseries.
Box# Folder# Title
2 2 The Dynamic Sailing Flight of Birds, 1925, 1948
2 3 Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics Project, 1934-1984
2 4 Some Thoughts on Natural Flight, 1951
2 5 Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics, 1952
2 6 Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics (Copy 2), 1952
2 7 Supplement to Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics, 1954
2 8 Natural Flight and Aeronautics (Master Copy), 1958-1959
2 9 Design and Construction of a Full Scale Ornithopter, 1960
2 10 Design and Construction of a Full Scale Ornithopter (2nd Copy), 1960
2 11 "Avian Flight Engineering", Page 1 (Draft), April 11, 1961
2 12 Status Report: Natural Flight and Aeronautics, 1963
2 13 Status Report: Natural Flight and Aeronautics (2nd Copy), 1963
2 14 Some Thoughts on Natural Flight, Status Report: Some Thoughts on Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics (Master Copy) and Various Other Reports on Flight and Aeronautics, 1951-1973
     
3 1 Interim Report: Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics, July 1967
3 2 Natural Flight and Aeronautics: Report on Beating Wings and Fins, 1969
3 3 Natural Flight and Aeronautics: Report on Beating Wings and Fins (2nd Copy), 1969
3 4 Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics: Report on Beating Wings and Fins (Master Review Copy), 1969
3 5 Natural Flight and Related Aeronautics: Some Notes on the Swimming and Flying Symposium, July 11, 1974
3 6 Nomograph, 1951
3 7 Graph, Revised (Extra Copies), 1961
3 8 Graph, Ornithopters, n.d.
Series 6- Subseries B: Other Productions, 1937, 1952-1954, 1991.
This subseries includes productions that are unrelated to Fitz Patrick's research in the fields of natural flight and aeronautics. The subseries includes a research paper on secondary school curriculum created for a course at New York University (1937), a paper on classification and coding of scientific information on a long-term research project written for the Special Libraries Association (1952), a review of United States Air Force Machinability Report (1954). The subseries also includes a short article on the Mount Manresa Water Tower with color photographs (c. 1991).
Box# Folder# Title
3 9 A Curriculum Adjustment Study, 1937
3 10 The Classification and Coding of Scientific Information on a Long Term Research Project, 1952
3 11 Review of U.S. Air Force Machinability Report and Book copy, 1954
3 12 Mount Manresa Water Tower, 1991
Series 7: Research Materials, 1954-1977. .0825 Cubic Feet
This series contains publications used by Fitz Patrick for research interests and purposes. The materials include copies of patents (1954-1960), news clippings on bat flight (1969-1977) and papers on man-powered flight (1963) and the propulsion characteristics of flapping wings (1976).
Box# Folder# Title
3 13 Copies of Several Patents for Electrical-Arc Torches, 1954-1960
3 14 "Propulsion Characteristics of Flapping Wings" and Correspondence with University of New South Wales, 1979-1980
3 15 "Project Ocelet: A Design Study of Man-Powered Flight" by Baumberger, Eliassen, Zeller, 1962-1963
3 16 Articles About Bat Flight and Wings, 1969-1977
Series 8: Fitz Patrick and Company.
 
Box# Folder# Title
4 1 Receipts - Hammacher, Schlemmer, and Co., 1932-1934
4 2 Receipts - from other companies, 1932-1934
4 3 Blank forms and correspondence, 1933, n.d.
4 4 Letter about ornithopter, 1991 (oversize correspondence)
     
Series 9: Photographs, Early 1900's-1987. .33 Cubic Feet.
This series contains over 500 photographs. The series includes both color and black and white photographs.
Series 9 - Subseries A: Ornithopter and Related Photographs, 1970-1987, n.d.
The majority of the photographs in the subseries are related to the ornithopter project and document Fitz Patrick's full scale ornithopter models (1970-1987). There are also several photographs of glider models (1981-1983). Many of these photographs include labels and notations made by Fitz Patrick.
Box# Folder# Title
5 1 MKV Ornithopter, 1970-1972
5 2 MKV Ornithopter, January-July 1973
5 3 MKV Ornithopter, August-December 1973
5 4 MKV Ornithopter, January-November 1974
5 5 MKV Ornithopter, October 1974-July 1976
5 6 Full-Scale Ornithopter Model, November 1976-November 1977
5 7 Full-Scale Ornithopter Model, January-August 1978
5 8 Ornithopter & Glider Models, 1981-1983
5 9 Ornithopter & Glider Models, 1983
5 10 Full-Scale Ornithopter Model, 1984-1987
5 11 Various Photos, n.d.
Series 9 - Subseries B: Family and Personal Photographs.
The photograph series includes several photographs and one scrapbook of James L. G. Fitz Patrick, Fitz Patrick's family, railroads and cityscapes. Most of the personal photographs of this type are unlabeled and undated.
Box# Folder# Title
5 12 Fitz Patrick Family Photos, 1963, n.d.
5 13 Group Photograph (Possibly Knights of Columbus), 1976
6   Scrapbook, n.d.
Series 10: Videos, 1973-1975, 1991-1995.
This series contains two videos and a film. The film is on movie film and has footage of the ornithopter (1973-1974). The first video is a December 1975 interview with James L. G. Fitz Patrick. The second video is related to a research presentation given by Dr. James D. DeLaurier at MIT's Lincoln Lab in November 1995 and contains footage of ornithopter flights (1991), an expothopter hanging in the lab (1992) and the presentation given at Lincoln Lab (1995).
Box# Folder# Title
5   Film on Ornithopters, 1973-1974 (8mm film) (4 Minutes, 47 Seconds)
- There is a DVD copy available for viewing purposes.
5   "A Conversation with James Fitz Patrick," December 12, 1975 (U-Matic Videotape)
5   Video Related to Ornithopter Projects, 1991-1992, 1995 (VHS (NTSC) Videotape)
- Video is related to a research presentation given by Dr. James D. DeLaurier at MIT's Lincoln Lab in November 1995.

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