Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Flying Machine


flyingmachine model
Leonard da Vinci – Flying Machine 

Leonardo da Vinci was a genius and besides being a remarkable artist, he was also an inspired inventor, who was the first European interested in a practical solution to flight and designed several mechanical devices which comprised of parachutes. He studied the flight of birds and their structure. His design for the invention is an indication that he was inspired by the flight of winged birds which he intended to imitate and in his notes he had made a mention of bats, kites and birds as sources with regards to his inspiration.

Probably the bat seems to be his foremost inspiration as the two wings of the device feature pointed, ends associated with the winged creature. His flying machine had a wingspan which was over 33 feet and the frame made of pine covered in raw silk for a light though sturdy membrane. In 1485, he came up with detailed plans for a human powered orhithopter or a wing flapping device for flying. He sketched out his ideas on notepads and most of which have been preserved since his death in 1519.

Inspiration of Invention – Winged Bird 

Though the image he presented was a powerful one and showed that some of his ideas were revolutionary, there does not seem to be any evidence of his attempt to build a device. From his various journal entries on human as well as avian flight, it indicated that he longed to soar like a bird in the sky and his designs which was called `flying machine’ and sketched in his notebooks, modelled on the anatomy of bats and birds that featured a pair of huge wings and were connected to a wooden frame the interior of which an intrepid pilot could lie face down and to power the wings, the pilot had to move the wings up and down by turning a crank moving in a series of rods and pulleys with his hands and legs enabling the wings of the machine to flap. The inspiration of nature in the invention is obvious in the way the wings were designed to twist as they flapped.

flying machine
Incorrect Conclusions – Major Flaw

Leonard eventually did not built the device and even if he would had done so, it would not have been a success since it did not have an engine and it was not known how it would have taken off the ground. Moreover even if he was successful in flying off high it would be unlikely that he would have landed back to Earth safely.

Leonard himself might have realized that once it was flown up in the air, the person would never have created enough power to get the device off the ground. Most of his investigation into flight has some major flaw since he assumed that man had adequate co-ordination and muscle power to imitate bird flight. He was also mistaken to think that birds flew by beating their wings downwards and backwards though the fact is wing feathers provide thrust on the down stroke while the inner wing provides the lift. Based on these incorrect conclusions, Leonardo experimented with his ideas endlessly with little chance of success.

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