LEONARDO da Vinci
(b. 1452, Vinci, d. 1519, Cloux, near Amboise)
Flying machinec. 1487
Metalpoint, pen and ink on paper, 235 x 176 mm
Institut de France, Paris
Manuscript page: Codex B, fol. 180r.
Next to the car, the flying machine was one of mankind's great dreams and it is, therefore, not surprising that the inventive Leonardo should have devoted himself to this problem as well. His flying machines underwent several developmental stages. The machine illustrated here was meant to be powered by the muscle power of a man standing upright. He had to move the pairs of wings, that beat crosswise on top of each other, up and down like those of a bird. If built, the machine would have been so heavy that it would have been completely unsuitable for flight. Leonardo recognized this problem and attempted to reduce the weight by using lighter materials.