The trend with offshore wind turbines is to increase the rotor diameter as much as possible to decrease the costs per kilowatt-hour. The increasing dimensions have led to the relative increase of the loads on the wind turbine structure. Because of the increasing rotor size and the spatial load variations along the blade, it is necessary to react to turbulence in a more detailed way; each blade separately and at several separate radial distances. In this paper, a proof of concept study is performed to show the feasibility of the load alleviation abilities of a ‘Smart’ blade, i.e. a blade equipped with a number of control devices that locally change the lift profile on the blade, combined with appropriate sensors and feedback controllers. Theoretical and experimental models are developed of a scaled non-rotating rotor blade which is equipped with two trailing edge flaps and strain sensors to facilitate feedback control. A pitch actuator is used to induce disturbances with a similar character as a gust or turbulence. A feedback controller based on classical loop shaping is designed that minimizes the root bending moment in the flapping direction. We show that with appropriate control techniques, the loads for periodic disturbances and for turbulence generated disturbances can be reduced up to 90 and 55%, respectively. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.