Abbas Ibn Firnas lived in Spain during the AD 800s, being brought up in the city of Cordoba. He was born in Korah Takrna near Ronda and studied chemistry, physics, and astronomy. In his experiments he managed to manufacture glass from sand and stone and he devised a chain of rings depicting the motions of stars and planets. He is also credited with inventing a time measuring devise called Al-Maqata.
In 852 AD, an alleged gambler-daredevil named Armen Firman, also living in Cordoba, taking bets, jumped off the top of the minaret of the Great Mosque in Cordoba. Firman, who used more of a parachute-like device rather than a flying machine survived with only minor injuries because his wing-like garments caught enough air to break his fall. It is thought that Firman's semi-attempt at flight inspired Ibn Firnas to redirect his work away from music and glassware to the mechanics of flight.
In 875 AD, twenty-three years after Armen Firman's flight, Ibn Firnas designed and built a flying machine which was capable of carrying a human being. Having constructed the final version of his glider, to celebrate it’s success, he invited the people of Cordoba to come and witness his flight. People watched from a nearby mountain as he flew some distance.
All accounts seem to indicate that Ibn Firna's glide was successful, having jumped off the hillside into the wind and remained airborne for 10 minutes, easily gliding over the fertile plains outside Cordoba, but the landing was hard. Failing a successful landing Firnas mentioned that he had not noticed birds use their tails in flight and that in doing so he had forgotten a tail on his flying apparatus, "...not knowing that birds when they alight come down upon their tails, he forgot to provide himself with one." Ibn Firnas severely injured his back, an injury which prevented him from trying again. In 888 AD he died - many say as a result of an ongoing struggle with his back injury from the flight. Please note the graphic depicting Ibn Firnas and his flying machine that the flying machine has no tail. However, and most importantly it does have operable ailerons, something that no machine after him had. Even the Wright brothers aircraft initially did not have them, depending on warping the wings to maneuver.
For the record, some sources say that Abbas Ibn Firnas and Armen Firman were not to separate people but one and the same person, with Armen Firman merely being a latinized version of Abbas Ibn Firnas and that both flight attempts were done by Ibn Firnas.
In an article refering to Ibn Firnas' flight, Karima Burns MH, ND, writes:
"The American historian Lynn White digs deeper and finds that 'a successful glider flight was made in the year 875 by a Moorish inventor named Ibn Firnas living in Cordoba, Spain' and furthermore, states, 'It's entirely possible that word of Ibn Firnas's flight was brought to Eilmer of Malmesbury (another inventor of flight and a member of the Benedictine order) by returning Crusaders.' In 1010 Eilmer then attempted to fly himself and subsequently succeeded in flying the length of two football fields using an apparatus similar to that of Firnas. And although Firnas did not leave any flight instructions for his predecessors in Andalusia, it is believed that his influence may have reached these other areas in Europe including where Eilmer lived."
THE FLYING MONK: EILMER OF MALMESBURY
(please click image)
NOTE: The Crusades customarily have been described as eight in number, the first starting in 1096, making the first of the Crusades at least some eighty-six years after Eilmer's attempted flight in 1010. However, for centuries, the people of Europe had made pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The Anglo Saxons of Britain were making pilgrimages as early as the 8th century when St.Willibald, Bishop of Eichstadt made a journey lasting seven years.
There are numerous stories and rumors of successful human powered flying attempts in China at least a 1000 years before Da Vinci, but just too long to go into here. Briefly The Flying Machine depicted below and drawn by Bernie Krigstein, was adapted from a text version written by Ray Bradbury that was originally published in a book called The Golden Apples of the Sun in 1953. The illustrated version was published one year later in 1954. In the original, The Flying Machine appeared along with 21 other of Bradbury works.
THE FLYING MACHINE: CHINA 400 A.D.
FLYERS AFTER DA VINCI
HEZARFEN AHMET CELEBI
Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi (sometimes spelled Hazarfen Ahmed Celebi) the most famous Turkish flyer, inspired by the studies by Leonardo Da Vinci and with some corrections and balancing adjustments, derived from studying the eagle in flight, finally, after nine experimental attempts, gave shape to his wing apparatus. His flight took place in 1638 from the 183 foot tall Galata Tower near the Bosphorus in Istanbul, during the reign of the Turkish Sultan Murad IV. The flight was successful. Hezarfen Celebi landed on the other side of the Bosphorus. With this success Hazarfen proved to be 200 years ahead of his time since it was two centuries later that comparable developements took place elsewhere. The event is recorded by writer and historian Evliya Celebi (traveller), an eye witness to the feat, in his book Seyahatname (a book of travel). The word Hezarfen means expert in 1000 sciences, in-fact, a reward of 1000 gold pieces was given to Hazarfen for his achievement.
DIEGO MARIN AGUILERA
Diego Marin Aguilera, born and living in rural Spain, without any knowledge of his flying predecessors, began to create a flying machine of his own design sometime toward the end of the late 1700's.
Always keeping weight in mind, Marin created a system of hand and foot operated cranks hooked to sprockets connected by chains to sprockets of different sizes in order to maximize and increase the power output while reducing the need for an extra amount of strength beyond what he was able to deliver on his own. He also chose, for reasons unknown, although seemingly making sense because he was after all making a craft emulating the flight of birds, to cover the total wing surface with genuine honest to goodness real bird feathers. In addition, unlike the ornithopters Da Vinci designed where the pilot laid flat in a prone position, Marin designed his flying machine so he as the operator-pilot would sit upright in order to maximize his strength and ability using the push-pull of his legs and arms against the resistance inherent in the cranks. In doing so, he felt the end results would be a flying machine that by utilizing the replication of the flapping wings of a bird, he would be able duplicate the forward thrust and lift necessary to stay aloft and thus then be carried in the air over long distances.
LILIENTHAL GLIDER TYPE IX (TYPE 9)
FLYING HUMANS AND THEIR ATTEMPT TO DO SO
DID LEONARDO DA VINCI FLY?
500 YEARS TOO SOON
DO YOU THINK FLYING IN
THE SKY IS MAGICAL? (click image)
RETURN TO DA VINCI FLYING MACHINES