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An Historical Survey of Atalian Aeronautics

Professor R. Giacomelli (Aircraft Enginiering's Italian Correspondent.)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 July 1929



IN the development of Italian Aeronautics four periods can be distinguished: A first period, covering the fifteenth, sixteenth and seven‐teenth centuries, in which the first idea of the technical possibility of human flight, both on the heavier and on lighter than air principles, was conceived in Italy, and the physico‐mechanical conditions of animal flight explained. In this period are to bo met the names of Leonardo da Vinci, Francesco Lana, Alfonso Borelli working on independent lines. A second period, in which Italy produced a number of distinguished aeronauts, among whom Vincenzo Lunardi and Francesco Zambeccari became well known in England for having carried out in London the first balloon ascents in 1784–85. In this period, which starting with the discovery of the Brothers Montgolfier, docs not go farther than the first decades of the nineteenth century, Italy did not combine with an interest in practical air navigation any actual scientific contribution to its development. A third period, in which Italy entered the scientific field. In this period, which covers the time from the last twenty‐five years of the nineteenth century to the end of the Great War, we find two principal names: Enrico Forlanini and Arturo Crocco. Finally the present period, subsequent to the war. On the work of Leonardo da Vinci on human flight a definite opinion can now be expressed. He arrived, after a long evolution of ideas, at the same solution which humanity actually realised towards the end of the past century with Otto Lilienthal in Germany, and his successors in several countries: Pilcher in England, Ferbcr in France, Chanute and the Brothers Wright in America. In fact Leonardo da Vinci, having started, like Lilientlial, from the imitation of the flapping flight of birds, came, at the end, like the latter, to soaring flight. The difference between the two lies in this: Lilienthal was compelled from flapping to soaring, or rather gliding flight, through practical experiments; Leonardo da Vinci, who never attained to actual construction and tests, through mental experiments.


Giacomelli, R. (1929), "An Historical Survey of Atalian Aeronautics", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 1 No. 7, pp. 246-246.




Copyright © 1929, MCB UP Limited

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