The Pterodactyl was designed in the USA in the 1970s and progressively modified. It was designed in 1977 by Jack McCornack of Monterey, California who improved a powered Manta Fledge IIB-type hang glider to include an undercarriage and suspended seat. Wing tip vanes acted as rudders. In 1979, McCornack and a friend flew two Pterodactyls across the United States from Monterey to the EAA Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Various models were developed with the 'Ascender' range being the most popular. It incorporated a front canard control and wingtip stabilisers. A two-sear Ascender II+2 model was also produced. McCornack sold the Pterodactyl Ltd company in 1984 but a succession of owners were unable to make a profit from the design.

The Museum's Ascender II+ single-seat model was purchased in 1990 for use in the first Scienceworks exhibition. The original owner and builder was Nicholas Lord of Tabletop, NSW in 1984. The second owner was Phil Vabre from Victoria. It is powered by a Cuyuna 430, 35 horsepower, twin-cylinder engine.

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