free ebooks

A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

As early as the thirteenth century Roger Bacon


Obviously,

the Saracen was anticipating Lilienthal and his gliders by some centuries; like Simon, a genuine experimenter--both legends bear the impress of fact supporting them. Contemporary with him, and belonging to the history rather than the legends of flight, was Oliver, the monk of Malmesbury, who in the year 1065 made himself wings after the pattern of those supposed to have been used by Daedalus, attaching them to his hands and feet and attempting to fly with them. Twysden, in his Historiae Anglicanae Scriptores X, sets forth the story of Oliver, who chose a high tower as his starting-point, and launched himself in the air. As a matter of course, he fell, permanently injuring himself, and died some time later.

After these, a gap of centuries, filled in by impossible stories of magical flight by witches, wizards, and the like--imagination was fertile in the dark ages, but the ban of the church was on all attempt at scientific development, especially in such a matter as the conquest of the air. Yet there were observers of nature who argued that since birds could raise themselves by flapping their wings, man had only to make suitable wings, flap them, and he too would fly. As early as the thirteenth century Roger Bacon, the scientific friar of unbounded inquisitiveness and not a little real genius, announced that there could be made 'some flying instrument, so that a man sitting in the middle and turning some mechanism may put in motion some artificial

wings which may beat the air like a bird flying.' But being a cautious man, with a natural dislike for being burnt at the stake as a necromancer through having put forward such a dangerous theory, Roger added, 'not that I ever knew a man who had such an instrument, but I am particularly acquainted with the man who contrived one.' This might have been a lame defence if Roger had been brought to trial as addicted to black arts; he seems to have trusted to the inadmissibility of hearsay evidence.

Some four centuries later there was published a book entitled Perugia Augusta, written by one C. Crispolti of Perugia--the date of the work in question is 1648. In it is recorded that 'one day, towards the close of the fifteenth century, whilst many of the principal gentry had come to Perugia to honour the wedding of Giovanni Paolo Baglioni, and some lancers were riding down the street by his palace, Giovanni Baptisti Danti unexpectedly and by means of a contrivance of wings that he had constructed proportionate to the size of his body took off from the top of a tower near by, and with a horrible hissing sound flew successfully across the great Piazza, which was densely crowded. But (oh, horror of an unexpected accident!) he had scarcely flown three hundred paces on his way to a certain point when the mainstay of the left wing gave way, and, being unable to support himself with the right alone, he fell on a roof and was injured in consequence. Those who saw not only this flight, but also the wonderful construction of the framework of the wings, said--and tradition bears them out--that he several times flew over the waters of Lake Thrasimene to learn how he might gradually come to earth. But, notwithstanding his great genius, he never succeeded.'


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us