Today’s Gliding Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
When, in 1895, the Wright Brothers read of the gliding experiments being conducted by Otto Lilienthal, Germany’s first and foremost contributor to the conquest of the air, they sought every piece of information they could learn about him. Between 1891 and 1896 Lilienthal had made over 2,000 glides – some of them several hundred feet – down a large hill he had constructed near Berlin. His early gliders were monoplanes with fixed tails. The pilot’s head and shoulders were above the cambered wings, his hips and legs dangled below. What limited directional control Lilienthal achieved he managed by shifting his hips and weight from side to side or back and forth. Photographs and published reports of Lilienthal’s experiments fascinated the Wrights. He had effectively demonstrated that air could support a man in winged flight.
Ever since 1891 Lilienthal had been designing and constructing gliders with the hope that when a suitable means of propulsion was developed, it could be added to his wings. In 1896 he had built a small compressed carbonic acid gas motor. Unfortunately, before Lilienthal had an opportunity to test it, he was killed in one of his standard gliders when a sudden gust of wind forced the glider upward into a stall. The craft crashed to earth and broke the German aviation pioneer’s back. He died the next day.
Culled from: The National Air and Space Museum
Morbid Mirth Du Jour
Generously submitted by Jessie.