This paper addresses the challenges of flight on Mars that at this time have the same element of novelty as flight on Earth itself was a novelty in the Kitty Hawk era almost 100 years ago, details the scientific need for such flyers, highlights the bioinspired engineering of exploration systems (BEES) flyer development and finally describes a few viable mission architecture options that allow reliable data return from the BEES flyers using the limited telecom infrastructure that can be made available with a lander base to orbiter combination on Mars. Our recent developments using inspiration from biology that are enabling the pathway to demonstrate flight capability for Mars exploration are described. These developments hold substantial spin-offs for a variety of applications both for NASA and DoD. Unmanned exploration to date suggests that Mars once had abundant liquid water (considered essential for life as we know it). It is not clear what transpired on the Martian climate to have turned the planet into the desert that it is today. Developing a comprehensive understanding of the past and present climatic events for Mars may provide important information relevant to the future of our own planet. Such exploration missions are enabled using the BEES technology. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.