Find a Christian store

<< Go Back

A Time of Golden Skies

By Vivian Bock

Order Now!

Dawn of the Art of Flight

Otto and his stalwart workshop assistant Paul went to the test site, a sandy meadow slope at the M├╝hlenberg. Fortunately, the slope was not visible from the houses and farms of Derwitz. Otherwise, everything could have failed in the beginning.
Both men were carrying the apparatus. It was shrouded in an impregnated linen cloth. In the following months, they would use a horse cart. In the coming years, they would take the train to public demonstrations at remote destinations. For now, they were just trying to avoid the treacherous noise of the wooden wheels, which might have lured curious eyes to the windows. Their experimental glide apparatus made of willow rods, strings, and shirting cloth was designed in a way so that it could be disassembled. They went out in the early evening hours when most of the residents were having supper. The fewer people they would meet on the boardwalk, the fewer questions. Uninvited spectators could have initiated all sorts of trouble due to their village chatter.
They had water with them, and also iodine and bandages, well knowing that it could become dangerous for Otto. The excitement in their chest was indescribable. It was a warm spring evening. Slight winds were blowing onto the slope. Otto tested the behavior of his glider whilst running downhill against the wind but yet avoiding to float off the ground. He felt the buoyancy under the wings almost carrying him. As soon as his gliding attempts appeared repeatable, safe take-offs and landings achievable, Otto would get used to the consequence that curious spectators might show up from now on. Very soon, he would become an attraction for the people, not only from the surrounding area. And it happened... Newspapermen and photographers turned up, and businessmen were wondering how to gain financial benefit from Lilienthal's new breakneck sport.
Again and again, Otto was running down the sloping meadow for a glide of twenty meters or more when the wind was good. He learned to control the flight by shifting his lower body and legs. The struggle against each gram but also for adequate strength and stiffness of the framework combined with the required option to disassemble the device for transport made the construction process a challenge. When he had not to work on it in his workshop in Lichterfelde, he was allowed to store the gliding apparatus in the barn of Miller Schwach. With his experimental glider equipment making, Lilienthal became the first commercial aircraft manufacturer, although, he had a throughout modest mindset of his sport. Numerous experimental prototypes emerged in addition to the serial 'Normal Gliding Apparatus', built in the premises of his steam engine factory. His customers were traveling far to acquire one of these magnificent gliders and, of course, to see the first man fly.
Today, more than a century after those first hopping and gliding experiments with such kite-like equipment of wood and fabric, the spectrum of modern air sports offers everything, from paragliding to skydiving with a wingsuit. We know high-performance gliders made of ultra-light composite materials and high energy aerobatic aircraft with four hundred horsepower. Commercial airliners carry millions of people through the air, worldwide, daily. And something that had not even wings had landed on the Moon, allowing astronauts to run and jump around on the surface just as the first flying men did on Earth.
Otto Lilienthal and his friends, the famous Wright Brothers who found motorized paths into the air, would be happy with many modern derivations of their invention. Their hearts were filled with the expectation of a positive impact, hopefully, shifting humanity towards peace on Earth, sometimes in the future. Travel through the air? Would that mean more people can learn foreign languages or find even their love and marriage overseas? Or, business opportunities? A future world freed from unrest and wars? Dreams that could have inspired the ethical guiding principles behind Otto's amazing 'Fliegekunst', the wondrous art of human flight. After his tragic accident, others were transforming his invention into an innovative weapon to kill. Perhaps, it was good for him never to learn that he, unwittingly, had given birth also to the wings of a new tool of war, throughout enabling the eradication of the human race.

Order Now!

<< Go Back


Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.