Da Vinci’s Influence on Aviation

David Pflieger - Da Vinci's Influence on Aviation

Leonardo DaVinci. He’s been called many things: inventor, painter, sculptor, scientist, and much, much more. He was one of the world’s most visionary people, period. He was responsible for several inventions and artworks throughout his lifetime. And although he is the definition of a “Renaissance Man,” he is most notably known as a painter, most famous for the Mona Lisa. But some of his most important work comes from his inventions.


One subject that Leonardo was particularly fond of was aviation. The thought of taking to the skies enthralled da Vinci. And sometime after 1800, several of da Vinci’s notebooks and journals were discovered to have included multiple drawings and notes on the subject.


According to AirandSpace.si.edu, Leonardo da Vinci had written well over 35,000 words and drawn over 500 sketches in regards to human mechanical flight. He originally became fascinated with aviation while drawing up military sketches for the Milanese Court. He thought of the possibility of aerial reconnaissance and was unable to shake the notion.


Several of his sketches featured machines that mimicked that of the bird. His drawings depicted men wearing large, wing-like structures that were designed to lift based on human propulsion. While it is impossible for human beings to fly in such a manner, it was an ingenious start.


Da Vinci’s later work in aviation showed just how clever he was. In his notes, da Vinci discusses the relationship between gravity and lifting pressure on a bird’s wing. He consistently demonstrated a basic knowledge of flight, and how air is treated as a liquid when speaking about flight.


Although none of these inventions or sketches materialized, it is important to understand exactly what da Vinci did. In essence da Vinci laid out something of a blueprint that other innovators and engineers would later use in order to create the first airplanes. This just goes to demonstrate how ahead of his time he was.