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Glider

Inspiration for this glider may have come from the string-controlled kite. It has been suggested that the Leonardo may have built and tested it.

In the drawing the feet of the pilot are placed at 'm' and the body is at 'a,b'. He has clearly thought about how the pilot controlled the flight, using cords. But it is not clear from the drawing which is the nose and which is the tail of the glider.

Leonardo's design for a glider.
Original drawing by kind permission of Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. Manuscript I, f 64r.

A glider based on this drawing was successfully flown by the paraglider Robbie Whittall. After 40 crashes, a tail was added to make it fly properly.

Reminiscent of the modern hang glider, Leonardo's glider with controls relies on pure gliding without flapping. However, Leonardo was obsessed with the possibility of humans flying using flapping wings like birds - an idea that had inspired others before him. Such a machine is called an ornithopter. The aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896) built more than 10 aeroplanes, mostly gliders, stretching fabric over willow canes. Although not exactly to Leonardo's designs they vindicated many of his thought processes. Like Leonardo, he could not entirely let go of the notion of flapping as a means of propulsion.

The model of the glider
Model-maker: Simon Sanderson
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Main Main
His life His life
His insights His insights
Diving apparatus Diving apparatus
Parachute Parachute
Glider
Turning the Pages Turning the Pages
   
 
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