Leonardo’s Glider

Posted by jerry on October 31st, 2004 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology

We will of course never know if Leonardo ever truly flight-tested his glider designs, but there have been a couple of recent attempts to see how sound the design was. A 1980s reconstruction apparently did fly but has been criticised for its use of modern materials such as nylon sail cloth and aluminium, bringing the weight down by a factor of eight.

In 2002, however, the BBC commissioned another reconstruction – this time using materials faithful to Leonardo’s design – bamboo for the framework and sealed cotton for the sail. While there were stability problems, the addition of a tailplane – consistent with Leonardo’s other work on flight – provided a workable solution.

daVinci glider

And this one managed several stable flights, including one as long as 18 seconds with considerable promise for longer flights under better conditions…
Leonardo da Vinci glider


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