Aero Magazine International


“To study the anatomy of bird wings together with the pectoral muscles, which move them”, recorded Leonardo on his notebook. “To do the same with man, to demonstrate the possibility of him being able to sustain himself on the air by beating wings”.


During more than two decades, starting around 1490, in Milan, Leonardo has researched, with a rare degree of intelligence, the flight of birds and the possibility of creating machines allowing humans to fly. He produced over five hundred drawings and 35,000 words distributed in a dozen of notebooks about these matters. The undertaking combined his curiosity about nature, his observation skills and his engineering instincts. It was also one more example of his method of using analogies to discover nature patterns. However, in this case, the use of analogies has gone even longer: It has made him get closer, more than all the other researches, to the pure theory universe, including fluid dynamics and laws of movement.

Leonardo’s interest for flying machines began with the work on theatrical shows. From the first days of Verrocchio’s studio until the last in France, Leonardo was with great excitement dedicated to this type of show. His mechanical birds were used for the first and last time, as entertainments for the court, as well as the winged dragons and other imaginary flying creatures devised by him for the delight and terror of his audiences

It was in shows like those that Leonardo saw for the first time ingenious devices that made actors going up and down and floating as if they were flying. Brunelleschi, his predecessor as artist-engineer in Florence, was the

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