A short history of my inspiration

People always have been trying to fly in the same way as birds do. Beside my grandad, as I’ve posted before, there are more people who inspired me through the years. You guys all know Leonardo Da Vinci’s first flying machine sketches. And some of you might know Otto Lilienthal, who’s responsible for the kickoff in our history of aviation.


A lot of people don’t know Da Vinci wasn’t the first. Almost 1200 years ago Abbas Ibn Firnas designed a set of wings which he intended to fly with. Many years later, around 1475, Leonardo Da Vinci designed his human powered ornithopter which in turn still inspires many other flying enthousiasts over the world. Both pioneers are big inspirators to me, because their dream wasn’t just a dream, but something they sacred believed in.

I listed some ‘post Da Vinci’ birdwing projects that are motivating me to go realize my own concept. In the basis they are quite similar to my idea, unfortunately most of them never got off the ground… But still all of these concepts have something useful to implement in my own design, below I’ll shortly tell you what and why.

Otto Lilienthal was the first one who made various succesful glides through the air. I treasure his experimental approach and the fact that his life was completely marked by flying. Unfortunately it also caused his death..

George R. White made succesfull testflights with his flapping wing machine. He used his leg muscles to power the wingmechanism. This proves that human muscles can deliver enough power to move large sized wings. Using fractions of muscular power is something I have in mind as well.

J.J. Bourcart made a ‘velocipede aerial’, or flying bicycle was in some way the predecessor of George White’s concept. I feel a strong connection with his simplistic, but sharp-cut approach.

R.J. Spalding designed a Flying Machine and succesfully patented it in 1889. I saw his sketches many years ago at an exhibition called “The Dream of Flight”, and must say it really opened my eyes. I implemented quite a big part of his philosophy in my concept.


For next post I’m planning to make a video in which I’ll reveal my concept in more details.

Stay tuned!


7 thoughts on “A short history of my inspiration

  1. I mis-spent some of my youth on the beaches at St. Augustine as a surfer in the ’60s. After 35 years or so as a hang glider pilot, I rediscovered surfing and so return to St. Aug where I still have friends. There are similarities in mastering the energy of a wave and that of the waves and thermals in the air.

    As for mythology, we know from it that flying like birds has been a dream of mankind ever since man could dream. Just look at the many artists that have used the dream in their work. Hang gliding for me was an attempt to capture the myth. Sadly, over the years I lost too many friends like Icarus. We now can have wings that don’t melt in the sun.

  2. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor. I too have dreamt of making a human-powered flying machine, a “heli-cycle” was what I had in mind, but I haven’t gotten around to planning it out. I’m excited to hear what you’ve come up with.

  3. St.Augustine, that’s miles away from my hometown, but still got the feeling that there is a connection between me and Mr. White. If it is only because we share the same passion. Actually I like it that there is much uncertainty about his succesful flying attempts. Gives his story a mythical status And we all need myths to believe in!

    • I noticed that R J Spalding later on changed his concept and added a balloon to his designs. Probably because he started realizing that the wings were way to small, and he needed a floating addition to lift his body off the ground.

  4. Spalding looks to have the right idea, but if the drawing is to scale, then his biggest problem would have been wing size. Of course he didn’t have carbon fiber composites.

  5. I too came across George White recently. And I have a connection with him albeit a thin one. St. Augustine is my (adopted) home town and I still visit there often. I wish there was more information about him available. Without that, I am skeptical about the claim that he actually flew. Moving large wings is not proof that you can fly with them. Next time I’m in St. Augie, I will try to look him up. His records that is. ;-)