Otto Lilienthal (born 23 May, 1848 in Anklam, Province of Pomerania – died 10 August, 1896 in Berlin) was a pioneer of human aviation who became known as the German Glider King. He was the first person to make repeated successful gliding flights. He followed an experimental approach first established earlier in the century by Sir George Cayley. Newspapers and magazines in many countries published photographs of Lilienthal gliding, favorably influencing public and scientific opinion about the possibility of flying machines becoming practical reality after ages of idle fantasy and unscientific tinkering.
To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. But to fly is everything.|30px|30px|Lilienthal
Lilienthal's greatest contribution was to the development of heavier-than-air flight. Lilienthal made his glides from an artificial hill he built near Berlin, and also from natural hills, especially in the Rhinow region.
While his lifelong pursuit was flight, he was also an inventor and devised a small engine that worked on a system of tubular boilers. His engine was much safer than the other small engines of the time. This invention gave him the financial freedom to focus on aviation. His brother Gustav (1849-1933) was living in Australia at the time, and Otto did not partake in any aviation experiments until his brother's return in 1885.
A sketch toward a second hang glider in 1891-1892 involved a triangle control frame with a complex basebar that would lead to lower double kingposting while the apex of the triangle would serve as a single kingpost; his filing of a U.S. Patent in 1894 directed pilots to grip the "bar" for carrying and flying the hang glider. The A-frame of Percy Pilcher and Otto Lilienthal echoes in today's control frame for hang gliders and ultralight trike aircraft. Working in conjunction with his brother Gustav, he made over 2,000 flights in gliders of his design starting in 1891 with his first glider version, the Derwitzer, until his death in a gliding crash in 1896.
He could use the updraft of a 10 m/s wind against a hill to remain stationary with respect to the ground. He could shout down to a photographer below to maneuver into the best position for a photo (of which several exist).
Lilienthal did basic research in precisely describing the flight of birds, especially of storks, and used polar diagrams for describing the aerodynamics of their wings. He then made many experiments in an attempt to gather reliable aeronautical data.
His unpowered gliders were controlled by changing the centre of gravity by shifting his body, much like modern hang gliders. However they were difficult to manoeuver and had a tendency to pitch down, from which it was difficult to recover. One reason for this was that he held the glider by his shoulders, rather than hanging from it like a modern hang glider. Only his legs and lower body could be moved, which limited the amount of weight shift he could achieve.
Lilienthal made many attempts to improve stability with various success. These included making a bi-plane which halved the wing span for a given wing area, and by having a hinged tail plane that could freely move upwards to make the flair at the end of a flight easier. He speculated that flapping wings of birds might be necessary and had began work on such machines.
Reports of Lilienthal's flights spread both inside and outside Germany, with photographs appearing in scientific and popular publications of many countries. Among the photographers were pioneers such as Ottomar Anschütz and the American physicist Robert Williams Wood.
Lilienthal was a member of the Verein zur Förderung der Luftschifffahrt, and regularly detailed his experiences in his own articles in its journal, the Zeitschrift für Luftschifffahrt und Physik der Atmosphäre, and in the popular weekly publication Prometheus. These were translated in the United States, France and Russia. Many people from around the world came to visit him in Berlin. Among them were Samuel Pierpont Langley from the United States, Nikolai Zhukovsky from Russia, Percy Pilcher from England and Wilhelm Kress from Austria. Zhukovsky wrote that the most important invention in the aviation field was Lilienthal's flying apparatus. Lilienthal corresponded on flight technicalities with many people, among them Octave Chanute, James Means, Alois Wolfmüller and other flight pioneers.
On 9 August, 1896, however, he fell from a height of 17 m (56 ft), breaking his spine. He died the next day, saying, "Kleine Opfer müssen gebracht werden!" ("Small sacrifices must be made!") and was buried in a distinct grave at Lankwitz public cemetery in Berlin.
Lilienthal's work was well known to the Wright Brothers, and they credited him as a major inspiration for their decision to pursue manned flight. However, they abandoned his aeronautical data after two seasons of gliding and began using their own wind tunnel data.
Of all the men who attacked the flying problem in the 19th century, Otto Lilienthal was easily the most important. ... It is true that attempts at gliding had been made hundreds of years before him, and that in the nineteenth century, Cayley, Spencer, Wenham, Mouillard, and many others were reported to have made feeble attempts to glide, but their failures were so complete that nothing of value resulted.''|30px|30px|Wilbur Wright
Technology and Innovation Park before Munich, Manufacturing Infrastructure Works Including Technical Infrastructure, 1st Construction Phase: Magistrale, Willy-Messerschmitt-straE-E and Otto Lilienthal
Jan 18, 2013; Contract notice: technology and innovation park before munich, manufacturing infrastructure works including technical...