Otto Lilienthal: Wikis

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Otto Lilienthal

Otto Lilienthal
Born 23 May 1848 (2010-05-23T18:48)
Anklam, Province of Pomerania
Died 10 August 1896 (1896-08-11)
Berlin
Resting place Berlin
Nationality Prussian, German
Occupation Engineer
Known for Successful gliding experiments
Spouse(s) Agnes Fischer

Otto Lilienthal (May 23, 1848-August 10, 1896) was a German pioneer of human aviation who became known as the Glider King. He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights. He followed an experimental approach established earlier by Sir George Cayley. Newspapers and magazines published photographs of Lilienthal gliding, favorably influencing public and scientific opinion about the possibility of flying machines becoming practical.

Contents

Early life

Lilienthal was born in Anklam, Province of Pomerania, Prussia. He attended the grammar school in Anklam, and also studied the flight of birds with his brother Gustav (1849-1933)[1], fascinated by the idea of manned flight. Lilienthal and his brother made strap-on wings, but failed in their attempts to fly. He then attended the regional technical school in Potsdam for two years and trained at the Schwarzkopf Company before become a professional design engineer. He later would attend the Royal Technical Academy in Berlin against his father’s will.

In 1867 he began his flight experiments in earnest, interrupted when he volunteered to serve in the Franco-Prussian War. Hired by the Weber Company, he started systematic experiments on the force of air, moving to Austria so he could jump off the Alpine cliffs. Returning to Germany, he married Agnes Fischer in 1878. Five years later, he founded his own company to make boilers and steam engines. Lilienthal published his famous book Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation in 1889.

Experiments in flight

Lilienthal's greatest contribution was in the development of heavier-than-air flight. He made his flights from an artificial hill he built near Berlin and from natural hills, especially in the Rhinow region.

A sketch toward a second hang glider in about 1891 involved a triangle control frame with a complex basebar that would lead to lower double kingposts while the apex of the triangle would serve as a single kingpost;[2] his filing of a U.S. Patent in 1894 directed pilots to grip the "bar" for carrying and flying the hang glider.[3] The A-frame of Percy Pilcher and Otto Lilienthal echoes in today's control frame for hang gliders and ultralight trike aircraft. Working in conjunction with his brother Gustav, he made over 2,000 flights in gliders of his design starting in 1891 with his first glider version, the Derwitzer, until his death in a gliding crash in 1896.

He could use the updraft of a 10 m/s wind against a hill to remain stationary with respect to the ground, shouting to a photographer on the ground to manoeuvre into the best position for a photo.

Lilienthal did research in accurately describing the flight of birds, especially storks, and used polar diagrams for describing the aerodynamics of their wings. He made many experiments in an attempt to gather reliable aeronautical data.

His gliders were controlled by changing the centre of gravity by shifting his body, much like modern hang gliders. However they were difficult to manoeuvre and had a tendency to pitch down, from which it was difficult to recover. One reason for this was that he held the glider by his shoulders, rather than hanging from it like a modern hang glider. Only his legs and lower body could be moved, which limited the amount of weight shift he could achieve.

Lilienthal made many attempts to improve stability with varying degrees of success. These included making a bi-plane which halved the wing span for a given wing area, and by having a hinged tail-plane that could move upwards to make the flare at the end of a flight easier. He speculated that flapping wings of birds might be necessary and had begun work on such a powered aircraft.

While his lifelong pursuit was flight, he was also an inventor and devised a small engine that worked on a system of tubular boilers. His engine was much safer than the other small engines of the time. This invention gave him the financial freedom to focus on aviation. His brother Gustav (1849-1933) was living in Australia at the time, and Lilienthal did not engage in aviation experiments until his brother's return in 1885.

Worldwide notice

Models of his gliders

Reports of Lilienthal's flights spread in Germany and elsewhere, with photographs appearing in scientific and popular publications. Among the those who photographed him were pioneers such as Ottomar Anschütz and American physicist Robert Williams Wood.

Lilienthal was a member of the Verein zur Förderung der Luftschifffahrt, and regularly detailed his experiences in articles in its journal, the Zeitschrift für Luftschifffahrt und Physik der Atmosphäre, and in the popular weekly publication Prometheus. These were translated in the United States, France and Russia. Many people from around the world came to visit him, including Samuel Pierpont Langley from the United States, Russian Nikolai Zhukovsky, Englishman Percy Pilcher and Austrian Wilhelm Kress. Zhukovsky wrote that Lilienthal's flying machine was the most important invention in the aviation field. Lilienthal corresponded with many people, among them Octave Chanute, James Means, Alois Wolfmüller and other flight pioneers.

Final flight

On 9 August, 1896, Lilienthal's glider lost its lift and he fell from a height of 17 m (56 ft), breaking his spine. He died the following day in Berlin, saying, "Kleine Opfer müssen gebracht werden!" ("Small sacrifices must be made!"). He was buried at Lankwitz Cemetery in Berlin.

Legacy

Lilienthal's research was well known to the Wright brothers, and they credited him as a major inspiration for their decision to pursue manned flight. However, they abandoned his aeronautical data after two seasons of gliding and began using their own wind tunnel data.[4]

The Lilienthal monument, Berlin 2006
Of all the men who attacked the flying problem in the 19th century, Otto Lilienthal was easily the most important. ... It is true that attempts at gliding had been made hundreds of years before him, and that in the nineteenth century, Cayley, Spencer, Wenham, Mouillard, and many others were reported to have made feeble attempts to glide, but their failures were so complete that nothing of value resulted.

In September 1909 Orville Wright was in Germany making demonstration flights at Tempelhof aerodrome. He paid a call to Lilienthal's widow and on behalf of himself and Wilbur paid tribute to Lilienthal for his influence in aviation and on their own initial experiments in 1899.

Lilienthal in fiction

  • Lilienthal plays a major part (in absentia) in Theodora Goss's short story "The Wings of Meister Wilhelm," nominated for a World Fantasy Award and published in her anthology In the Forest of Forgetting.
  • H.G. Wells in his 1898 science-fiction story The War of the Worlds, near the end of chapter 2, book 2, refers to "our Lilienthal soaring machines," explaining that these and other human technology must seem rudimentary when compared to the story's invading Martians’.
  • H.G. Wells mentions Lilienthal at the beginning of Chapter XVI of "When the Sleeper Wakes" (1899), calling him "the aerial proto-martyr". The reference is missing from the revised later edition entitled "The Sleeper Wakes" (1910).
  • Lilienthal appears momentarily as an idol for the main character, Conor, in Eoin Colfer's Airman.
  • Lilienthal is mentioned in Edward D. Hoch's short story "The Flying Man".
  • A fictional characterization of Lilienthal was resurrected as an evil clone in the Japanese Read or Die (2001) novels, anime, and manga.
  • Lilienthal's "great grandson" appears in the Spanish short story, "El Sueño de Otto."

Gallery

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRANSPORTATION Rand-McNally c. 1977
  2. ^ Flying Machines: Sketch toward his second hang glider is included.
  3. ^ FLYING-MACHINE OTTO LILIENTHAL
  4. ^ Crouch, ch. 16, "Tunnel Vision," pp. 226-28
  5. ^ Aero Club of America Bulletin, Sept. 1912

References

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Numerous technicians in every state are doing their utmost to achieve the dream of free, unlimited flight and it is precisely here where changes can be made which would have a radical effect on our whole way of life.

Otto Lilienthal (23 May 184810 August 1896), the German "Glider King," was a pioneer of human aviation.

Contents

Sourced

The supporting powers of time air and of the wind depend on the shape of the surfaces used, and the best forms can only be evolved by free flight through the air.
  • All flight is based upon producing air pressure, all flight energy consists in overcoming air pressure.
    • Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst (1889); English edition: Birdflight As The Basis of Aviation (1911)
  • I, too, have made it a lifelong task of mine to add a cultural element to my work, which should result in uniting countries and reconciling their people. Our experience of today's civilisation suffers from the fact that it only happens on the surface of the earth. We have invented barricades between our countries, custom regulations and constraints and complicated traffic laws and these are only possible because we are not in control of the 'kingdom of the air', and not as 'free as a bird'.
    Numerous technicians in every state are doing their utmost to achieve the dream of free, unlimited flight and it is precisely here where changes can be made which would have a radical effect on our whole way of life. The borders between countries would lose their significance, because they could not be closed off from each other. Linguistic differences would disappear, as human mobility increased. National defence would cease to devour the best resources of nations as it would become impossible in itself. And the necessity of resolving disagreements among nations in some other way than by bloody battles would, in its turn, lead us to eternal peace.
    We are getting closer to this goal. When we will reach it, I do not know.

The Romance of Aeronautics (1912)

Quotations of Lilienthal from The Romance of Aeronautics: An Interesting Account of the Growth & Achievements of All Kinds of Aerial Craft (1912) by Charles Cyril Turner, Ch. VII Lilienthal and Pilcher
Gradual development of flight should begin with the simplest apparatus and movements, and without time complication of dynamic means.
  • Artificial flight may be defined as that form of aviation in which a man flies at will in any direction by means of an apparatus attached to his body, the use of which requires personal skill. Artificial flight by a single individual is the proper beginning for all species of artificial flight, as the necessary conditions can most easily be fulfilled when man flies individually.
    • Variant translation: Artificial flight may be defined as that form of aviation in which a man flies at will in any direction, by means of an apparatus attached to his body, the use of which requires the dexterity of the user.
  • The increasing size of the apparatus makes the construction more difficult in securing lightness in the machine; therefore the building of small apparatus is to be recommended.
  • The difficulty of rising into the air increases rapidly with the size of the apparatus. The uplifting of a single person, therefore, is more easily attained than that of a large flying machine loaded with several persons.
Actual practice in individual flight presents the best prospects for developing our capacity until it leads to perfected free flight.
  • Gradual development of flight should begin with the simplest apparatus and movements, and without time complication of dynamic means.
  • The sailing flight of birds is the only form of flight which is carried on for some length of time without the expenditure of power.
  • The contrivances which are necessary to counteract the wind effects can only be understood by actual practice in the wind.
  • The supporting powers of time air and of the wind depend on the shape of the surfaces used, and the best forms can only be evolved by free flight through the air.
  • The maintenance of equilibrium in forward flight is a matter of practice, and can only be learned by repeated personal experiment.
  • Experience alone can teach us the best forms of construction for sailing apparatus in order that they may be of sufficient strength, very light, and most easily managed.
  • By practice and experience a man can (if the wind be of the right strength) imitate the complete sailing flight of birds by availing himself of the slight upward trend of some winds, by performing circling sweeps, and by allowing the air to carry him.
  • Actual practice in individual flight presents the best prospects for developing our capacity until it leads to perfected free flight.

Unsourced

  • Opfer müssen gebracht werden!
    • Sacrifices must be made!
    • Reportedly his last words (probably wrong)

Misattributed

  • To design a flying machine is nothing. To build one is something. But to fly is everything.
    • Widely attributed to Lilienthal, this was actually an 1898 statement by Ferdinand Ferber dedicated to Lilienthal, published in L'Aviation; ses debuts son developpement [Aviation, its debut and devopment] (1908), translated into German as Die Kunst zu Fliegen [The Art of Flight] (1910).

Quotes about Lilienthal

  • Particular honour belongs to those who believed in the possibility of mechanical flight when all the world was against them; not the visionaries because they hoped for it merely, but those who by sheer force of intellect perceived the means by which it could be accomplished and directed their experiments along the right path. ... The name of Lilienthal is now among the most honoured, but curiously his own countrymen were the last to recognize the value of his work.
    • Charles Cyril Turner in The Romance of Aeronautics: An Interesting Account of the Growth & Achievements of All Kinds of Aerial Craft (1912), Ch. VII, Lilienthal and Pilcher
  • Of all the men who attacked the flying problem in the 19th century, Otto Lilienthal was easily the most important. ... It is true that attempts at gliding had been made hundreds of years before him, and that in the nineteenth century, Cayley, Spencer, Wenham, Mouillard, and many othcrs were reported to have made feeble attempts to glide, but their failures were so complete that nothing of value resulted.
    • Wilbur Wright in Aero Club of America Bulletin (September 1912)

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