Leonardo da Vinci and the Flying Challenge : from ambition to project
Flying is one of man’s greatest dreams, one of the most ambitious projects mankind has ever approached. And a path on which many brilliant minds have failed. History testifies to this.
Even Leonardo Da Vinci was not immune to the fascinating challenge to make man fly. Since the early 1500s, Leonardo would focusses his genius and ambition precisely on this purpose. He wanted to excel, to be remembered, to surpass any master and make his memory immortal.
Leonardo studied the concept and mechanics of flight by combining nature and engineering: this recurs so often in Leonardo’s thinking that it can be considered a real ‘trademark’ of his genius.
Observing nature and birds, Leonardo had an intuition capable of dividing him from the beliefs of the scientists of the time, who saw flight as a mysterious and almost magical process. Leonardo understood that in flight there was nothing magical but only simple and mere mechanics.
The study of the shape of the wings of birds and the investigation of air currents made it clear to Leonardo that man’s flight was not an impossible task, but reproducible with the right mechanics. From his experimental background, Leonardo came to theorize in a very empirical way the principles of aerodynamics which indeed will only be theorized much later.
Leonardo designs tools capable of supporting human flight on a theoretical level, such as: parachute, aerial life (considered by many to be a helicopter prototype). The many flying wings designed and built by Leonardo are just a few examples of how the Tuscan genius tried to make his greatest dream come true.