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Main Site : The Legacy : History of Aviation

Prior to the Wright brothers' success, early philosophers believed man-powered flight possible after careful bird observation. In the 13th Century, an English monk, Roger Bacon conducted numerous experiments. He believed air could support a craft just as water supported boats.

Later, in the 16th Century, Leonardo da Vinci also observed the flight of birds and made his own hypothesis about man's own abilities to fly. He made great contributions to the development of flight discovery by his own inventions: the airscrew, propeller, and parachute. He proposed three different types of flying machines. The first was an ornithopter, a machine with flapping mechanical wings (much like those of a bird); the second was the helicopter, built to rise by a revolving rotor; and the third was a glider designed to coast on air currents.

Since these two philosophers' discoveries, many have studied the art of flying and advanced their theories by trial-and-error. Jean Marie Le Bris was a Frenchman who experimented with the glider and ornithopter. Percy S. Pilcher (from Scotland) achieved many great advances with flight. His studies ended with a fatal crash 1899. There were various others who not only experimented but contributed much to the evolution of flight discovery.


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