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FLYERS: BEFORE LEONARDO DA VINCI



ABBAS IBN FIRNAS: 875 A.D.

(from The Islamic Times, November 1998)



In 852 AD a Moor in Cordoba, Spain, Armen Firman, constructed a wing-like cloak with the intention of using the garment to glide. Jumping from a tower in Cordoba, Firman survived with only minor injuries because his wing-like garments caught enough air to break his fall.

Abbas Ibn Firnas lived in Spain during the same era, 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. Living in Cordoba, if he had not actually wittnessed Armen Firman's attempt to fly, undoubtably he had heard of it.

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 itís 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, 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.

Refering to the same flight, Karima Burns MH, ND, writes in an article dated March 3, 2001, in Islam Online:

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.

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.



AFTER DA VINCI





HEZARFEN AHMET CELEBI
1609-1640

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.



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