Wingspan: 6.7 meters
Length: 5 meters (16
Weight: 24 kg (52
Lilienthal (1848-1896), an engineer from Anklam, Germany,
was one of the first humans to glide through the air.
He became a pioneer of unpowered human flight by building
and flying the world's first hang gliders.
built several different types of gliders, and made around
5000 flights between 1891-1896. Using his gliders, he
flew as high as 984 feet, and would sometimes stay in
the air for up to five hours. Many of his gliders, such
as the one we have on display, feature cambered wings,
which means the wings were slightly curved on top to increase
lift. Other designs used two wings, one positioned over
the other in the biplane style. The Wright brothers were
inspired by Lilienthal's designs, and the famous plane
they used for the first powered flight was built in the
gliders were carefully designed to distribute weight as
evenly as possible to ensure a stable flight. To control
the roll of the gliders, pilots would swing their bodies
from left to right, using their own weight to change the
direction of the glider.
the end of his life, Lilienthal started to experiment
with powered flight and built the first 4-cycle internal
combustion engine. Unfortunately, however, Lilienthal
died when a wind gust caught his glider during a flight
and he fell.