For those who love all things Italian... 

                                                        Leonardo da Vinci - The Ornithopter...

          Leonardo da Vinci made the first real studies of flight in the 1480's. He had over 100 drawings that illustrated his theories on flight.


         The Ornithopter flying machine was never actually created. It was a design that Leonardo da Vinci created to show how man could fly. The modern day helicopter is based on this concept.


Leonardo Da Vinci lived from the period of April 15, 1452 to May 2, 1519. Known as one of the greatest legends in fine art, the prodigy of the Italian Renaissance also excelled as a sculptor, architect, musician, anatomist, inventor, engineer and geometer. He was a multi-talented personality and a true universal genius.


The invention of an airplane can be traced back to the times of Leonardo Da Vinci. This genius was the first person to explore the option of flight for human beings. He performed an in depth research on the structure and flying mechanism of birds. Thereafter, in 1485, he designed a machine known as an ornithopter with flapping wings. The model was to be powered by the human body.


A closer look at the study performed by Da Vinci and his evolving designs over the years reveals how his scientific hypothesis metamorphosed. His earlier designs were incredible but seemed too heavy for practical flight. Gradually, insight knowledge of the gliding mechanism of birds made him realize that an imitation of this strategy could possibly work better than a human powered device. The designs of a glider sketched by Leonardo showcase the flier's position in a way that required him to maintain balance by the motion of the lower part of his body. The wings were conceived keeping in mind the wings of bats or other large birds. These wings were rigid towards the inside and were movable at their outer edge. This technique was based on the observation that in reality the inner part of the wings of a bird moves more slowly than the outer part. The main objective was to be able to sustain rather than to push forward.


Although the designs of Leonardo Da Vinci were very convincing, there is no proof in history highlighting his attempt to experiment with an operational device. However, the idea of such a human powered mechanical flight device based on the flying technique of birds or bats circulated in the scientific world for many centuries hence forth. It took almost four centuries after Da Vinci's master plan for any man to venture into this domain successfully.