4/1/08 - da vinci's flight

In today's excerpt - Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) takes flight. Da Vinci has long been known for his extraordinary drawings of flying machines, especially the noted drawing found in the Codex Atlanticus Folio 846 v., circa 1485. Now, Renaissance archeologist Paolo S. Fril, working together with a team of experts north of Pisa on the Ligurian coast of Italy, has uncovered compelling evidence that da Vinci not only built, but also flew an aircraft, based on this drawing:

"In two ramshackle huts, in a field 17 kilometers north of Pisa, a team of Renaissance archeologists has discovered two separate mechanical assemblies that appear to be components built exactly to the specifications required by da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus drawings. The field is located on the rugged windswept shores of the Ligurian Sea.

"As importantly, this discovery includes a small number of documents that have been determined to have been written in da Vinci's hand. Characteristically for da Vinci, they have been written from right to left across the page, and partially in code. Translators called in from the Department of Renaissance Studies at the University of Bologna have determined that the documents describe a series of flights by the aircraft, the longest of which appears to have been 175 meters. If true, then da Vinci's flights would have been significantly longer than the initial flights taken by the Wright brothers at North Carolina in 1903. ... The documents give no indication as to whether it was da Vinci or one of his associates who piloted these Renaissance-era flights.

"If these findings can be independently validated, not only do they radically alter our view of the history of flight, but da Vinci's design suggests engineering alternatives that could potentially revolutionize the speed and efficiency of modern aircraft. ...

"Central to the questions brought about by this new discovery is why these flights were discontinued, and no separate record exists. However, consulting engineers from the aerospace department at the University of Leipzig believe that the materials used did not have sufficient tensile strength to provide sustained support for repeated flights, a metallurgical achievement that would have to wait until the 19th century. Further, given the date of the flights, historians speculate that da Vinci would have been called to Milan during this period to continue his work on the equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza.

"The translated documents include references to patronage for the project from the Salviati family of Pisa, as well as several additional renderings of the flying machine itself. These documents further include illustrations that appear to be the Renaissance equivalent of flight goggles and a flight jacket, though no such artifacts were found at the site."

Happy April Fool's Day, and thanks for your readership and support of


Paolo S. Fril, Ph.D.


'New Discoveries regarding the construction and flight of Da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus Flight Machine'


Journal of Renaissance Studies


February/March 2008 LXVII


barns and noble booksellers
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity and support children’s literacy projects.


Sign in or create an account to comment