Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Early aeronautics

Before scientific investigation of aeronautics started, people started thinking of ways to fly. In a Greek legend, Icarus and his father Daedalus built wings of feathers and wax and flew out of a prison. Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted, and he fell in the sea and drowned. When people started to scientifically study how to fly, people began to understand the basics of air and aerodynamics. One of the earliest scientists to study aeronautics was Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo studied the flight of birds in developing engineering schematics for some of the earliest flying machines in the late fifteenth century AD. His schematics, however, such as the ornithopter ultimately failed as practical aircraft. The flapping machines that he designed were either too small to generate sufficient lift, or too heavy for a human to operate. Although the ornithopter continues to be of interest to hobbyists, it was replaced by the glider in the 19th century.

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