The story began with two feathery wings

The first serious attempt to fly

The story began with two feathery wings The first serious attempt to fly was undertaken in the year 880 AD by the Andalusian polymath Abbas Ibn Firnas who covered himself with feathers for the purpose, attached a couple of wings to his body, and, getting on a prominence, flung himself down into the air, when according to the testimony of several trustworthy writers who witnessed the performance, he flew a considerable distance, as if he had been a bird, but, in alighting again on the place whence he had started, his back was very much hurt because, not knowing that birds when they alight come down upon their tails, he forgot to provide himself with one.

In 1290 AD, Roger Bacon described the principles of operation for the lighter-than-air balloon and the flapping-wing ornithopter, which he envisaged would be constructed in the future. The lifting medium for his balloon would be an “aether” whose composition he did not know.

In the late fifteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci followed up his study of birds with designs for some of the earliest flying machines, including the flappingwing ornithopter and the rotating-wing helicopter. Although his designs were rational, they were not based on particularly good science. Many of his designs, such as a four-person screw-type helicopter, have severe flaws.

He did at least understand that “An object offers as much resistance to the air as the air does to the object.” His analysis led to the realisation that manpower alone was not sufficient for sustained flight, and his later designs included a mechanical power source such as a spring. Da Vinci’s work was lost after his death and did not reappear until it had been overtaken by the work of George Cayley.

In 1680, Giovanni Alphonso Borelli, as a result of his detailed study of bird flight, concluded that; man does not have the power output needed to lift him and a machine into the air. This brought an end to practically all heavier-than-air experiments until the nineteenth century.

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the Montgolfiere-style hot air balloon, globe aerostatique. On 4 June 1783, they flew this craft as their first public demonstration at Annonay in front of a group of dignitaries from the États particuliers. Its flight covered 2km, lasted 10 minutes, and had an estimated altitude of 1,6002,000- m. Word of their success quickly reached Paris.

Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes made the first manned free balloon flight in a Montgolfier balloon. After several tethered tests to gain some experience of controlling the balloon, de Rozier and d’Arlandes made their first untethered flight in a Montgolfier hot air balloon on 21 November 1783, taking off at around 2 p.m. from the garden of the Château de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne, in the presence of the King. Their 25-minute flight travelled slowly about 9 km to the southeast, attaining an altitude of 3,000 feet, before returning to the ground at the Butte-aux-Cailles, then on the outskirts of Paris.