2013 Master Index 1600 to 1699

“The Dawn of Flight”
Chronology of Aviation (Pre-Sixteenth Century Era)

Dawn of Flight Events

  • c. 1700 BCCrete — During a daring escape flight to freedom, Athenian engineer Daedalus and his son Icarus set out on a VFR flight from Crete to Naples. The two escapees had fabricated themselves wings out of wax and feathers. During their flight, Icarus ignored his father's warnings not to fly too high. Young Icarus abandoning all caution, flew higher towards the sun. The increased heating effects of the sun lead to a structural failure of the wax binding the feathers to his artificial wings. The resulting loss in lift caused Icarus to fall into the sea and perish. Daedalus continued his flight on to Naples and landed safely. After clearing customs, Daedalus swore never to fly again. He was heard to say: “the sky, like the sea, is the abode of the Gods and a dangerous place for mortals.” NTSB officials have yet to comment on the case.

  • c. 1000 BC — Mythical flying machines called Vimanas are mentioned in the Vedas.

  • c. 850 BC — Legendary King Bladud attempts to fly over the city of New Troy, but falls to his death.

  • c. 500 BC — The Chinese start to use kites.

  • c. 400 BC — The often-described pigeon of the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum may have been a kite.

  • c. 200 BC — The Chinese invented the first hot air balloon: the Kongming lantern.

  • c. 220 BC — The Chinese use kites as range finders.

  • c. 559 — Yuan Huangtou, Ye, first manned kite glide to take off from a tower.

  • c. 852 — Abbas Ibn Firnas jumps from a tower in Córdoba, Spain wearing an oversized cloak, which acts as a parachute to break his fall.

  • c. 875 — Abbas Ibn Firnas makes the first attempt at controlled flight and launches himself in a Hang glider built of wood and feathers, with which he could control his altitude and direction, from a tower in Córdoba, Spain.

  • c. 1000 — The glider kite is presumed to have gained currency around the Pacific. It was probably manned and used for military, religious and ceremonial reasons.

  • c. 1010 — Eilmer of Malmesbury builds a wooden glider and, launching from a bell tower, glides 200 meters.

  • 1241 — The Mongolian army uses lighted kites in the battle of Legnica.

  • c. 1250 — Roger Bacon writes the first known technical description of flight, describing an ornithopter design in his book Secrets of Art and Nature.

  • 1282 — Marco Polo reports on manned and ritual kite ascents.

  • 1486-1513Florence, Italy … Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest scientist and artist of the age, devoted a large portion of his time to the problem of how people might invent a way to fly. It is said that he produced over 500 sketches and over 35,000 word on the subject of aeronautical devices. Leonardo considered hundreds of ideas for human flight and sketched many of them. However, it appears that the only concept that he actually tested was a simple toy helicopter, with a wing of a spiral shape. It should be noted, that if a lightweight power source were available at the time, this simple helicopter arrangement might have worked. Leonardo also invented the parachute, a device that would enable humans to descend safely from heights.

  • 1496 — The Italian Mathematician Giambattista Danti is supposed to have flown from a tower.

  • c. 1500 — Hieronymus Bosch shows in his triptych The Temptation of the Holy Antonius, among other things, two fighting airships above a burning town.

  • 1507Stirling, Scotland ... Italian-born John Damian launches himself from the walls of Stirling Castle, but falls to the ground, breaking several bones. He blamed his failure on the fact that he used feathers from a chicken, a bird which does not fly, when he made his wings.

  • 1558 — Giambattista della Porta publishes a theory and a construction manual for a kite.

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