As an artist, Mark Clews may go down as one of the greats. But when it comes to aviation, his pioneering work is more likely to be compared to the eccentric British achievements of someone such as Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards.
Six months after beginning work on a life-size model aeroplane powered by a giant elastic band, Clews expected to reach up to 3,000ft on yesterday's maiden flight. Understandably then, tension mounted on the rain swept airfield in Surrey, as Clews clambered into the waterlogged cockpit, clenched his jaw and nodded to ground crew to release the propeller.
With cameras rolling and even the wind briefly falling in anticipation, the 20ft toy replica certainly moved. Unfortunately, it moved only a sedate six feet backwards.
In the tradition of many an unsuccessful inventor, however, the pilot was impressively undaunted.
"It was spectacular, everything I hoped it would be, apart from actually flying," said Clews, a 24-year-old artist-cum-aviator from Stourbridge who once tried to launch a life-size paper boat on the River Severn (it sank).
He went on: "We are taking a step in the right direction just by moving. I mean, technically it is a step in the wrong direction I suppose, but at least it's a step."