Otto Lilienthal

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Otto Lilienthal meets with success, 1895.

When your last words are “sacrifices must be made,” you probably led an adventuresome and abbreviated life. Such was the case of German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal, who is captured in mid-flight in the above 1895 classic photograph. Lilienthal, known as the “Glider King,” lived his life in the service of popularizing humans conquering the sky, successfully demonstrating heavier-than-air flight by leaping from crafts of his own creation from an artificial mountain he built in Berlin. Lilienthal delivered his notable final words in 1896, after he crashed to the ground when his apparatus stalled. The aviator had somehow escaped serious danger prior to this fateful flight. A note about him from the July 26, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“THE FLYING MAN IS NOT HURT–Berlin–There is not truth to the story that a serious accident has occurred to Otto Lilienthal, the famous flying man, whose development of flying machines, with birds as his models, has been watched with interest the world over. Lilienthal was experimenting with one of his machines. He sustained a slight fall, but was entirely uninjured and the machine was only slightly damaged.”

The aftermath of Lilienthal’s fatal final crash, 1896.