How It Works

Top 5 Facts: Early flights

1. Pigeon

According to Ancient Roman sources, the Greek mathematician Archytas invented a bird-shaped flying device which he nicknamed ‘the pigeon’. It is alleged to have flown for 200m (656ft).

2. Vulture Man

In the 9th century CE, Muslim inventor Abbas Ibn Firnas reportedly covered his body with vulture feathers and tried to fly. No account survives of his success, however.

3. The Flying Monk

In 1010 English monk Eilmer of Malmesbury is believed to have jumped off Malmesbury Abbey in a primitive gliding craft. Reports say he flew 180m (591ft) before crashing.

4. Airship

In 1709 Portuguese priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated a small airship model before the Portuguese court, but he never succeeded in scaling the model up.

5. Tandem

In 1754 Mikhail Lomonosov showed a tandem rotor aircraft to the Russian Academy of Sciences. Similar to one of Da Vinci’s designs, it was self-powered by a spring.