Saturday, July 19, 2014

Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896)

Otto Lilienthal stamp
To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. But to fly is everything. ~Otto Lilienthal
The noted aviation historian, Sir Charles Gibbs-Smith, divided flyer inventors into two categories. The first he termed "Chauffeurs of the Air," because "they act as though flying is like driving a carriage." Maxim is perhaps the best example of this large category. In contrast, Gibbs-Smith said that "Airmen" are those who understand that the fluid medium of air makes flight a quite different proposition than land/water-based maneuvering.
Gibbs-Smith continued, that the chauffeur-type tends to be concerned with obtaining sufficient propulsion, without worrying overmuch about factors like lift or control. While the airmen often work on gliders before tackling the problem of powered, dynamic-lift flight. Of all of the aviation pioneers who fall into Gibbs-Smith's prototypical "Airman" category, the German, Otto Lilienthal, best exemplifies those characteristics.
Before 1881, attempts to develop dynamic-lift flyers were occasional and sporadic. Lilienthal changed all that. His efforts broke the 'respectability barrier' that haunted serious efforts to develop dynamic-lift flyers. During the late 1880s, Lilienthal developed eighteen different models of gliders. His efforts received worldwide publicity, and his successes lent others the courage to follow in his footsteps.
Perhaps, Lilienthal's most influential work is his paper Practical Experiments for the Development of Human Flight. This seminal work continued to influence dynamic-lift research for years. Before Lilienthal, building a heavier-than-air, dynamic-lift craft was widely considered to be the province of dreamers and fools; after it seemed possible to fly without the aid of liftwood or hydrogen.
Scientist/Inventor (Green NPC)
Fisticuffs: 1, Throwing: 1
Stealth: 2, Mechanics: 2 (machinist)
Wilderness Travel: 1
Observation: 6, Science: 5 (physics), Engineering 3 (naval engineering)
Eloquence: 3
Riding: 3 (horse), Linguistics 2 (English), Piloting: 2 (aerial flyers)
Motives: Driven, Knowledge, Loyal
Apperance: Lilienthal is a distinguished man, slightly above average in both build and looks. He is well spoken and is able to persuade people to his point of view due in large part to his intelligence and command of the subject matter. His primary language is German, but he speaks English as well. His passion is aeronautics and in particular that dynamic-lift flight models are superior to static-lift (hydrogen and liftwood) models. His research has been focused on replicating flight models based on the study of bird flight.

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