|Early History of Flight|
|Part 1: Humans try to fly like birds|
The discovery of the kite that could fly in the air by the Chinese started humans thinking about flying. Kites were used by the Chinese in religious ceremonies. They built many colorful kites for fun, also. More sophisticated kites were used to test weather conditions. Kites have been important to the invention of flight as they were the forerunner to balloons and gliders.
Humans Try to Fly like Birds
Hero and the Aeolipile
Hero mounted a sphere on top of a water kettle. A fire below the kettle turned the water into steam, and the gas traveled through pipes to the sphere. Two L-shaped tubes on opposite sides of the sphere allowed the gas to escape, which gave a thrust to the sphere that caused it to rotate. The importance of the aeolipile is that it marks the start of engine invention - engine created movement will later prove essential in the history of flight.
1485 Leonardo da Vinci - The Ornithopter and the Study of 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's notebooks on flight were reexamined in the 19th century by aviation pioneers.
1783 - Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier - The Flight of the First Hot Air Balloon
In 1783, the first passengers in the colorful balloon were a sheep, rooster and duck. It climbed to a height of about 6,000 feet and traveled more than one mile.
After this first success, the brothers began to send men up in hot air balloons. The first manned flight was on November 21, 1783, the passengers were Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent.
1799-1850's - George Cayley - Gliders
For over 50 years, George Cayley made improvements to his gliders. Cayley changed the shape of the wings so that the air would flow over the wings correctly. Cayley designed a tail for the gliders to help with the stability. He tried a biplane design to add strength to the glider. George Cayley also recognized that there would be a need for machine power if the flight was to be in the air for a long time.
George Cayley wrote "On Ariel Navigation" that showed that a fixed wing aircraft with a power system for propulsion, and a tail to assist in the control of the airplane, would be the best way to allow man to fly.
Next page > 19th And 20th Century Flight Efforts