Da Vinci and his Inventions
“The Renaissance era was the time for new ideas and a new age. Many talented individuals came out of this time period. Among these men was the famous Leonardo da Vinci. Most people know him as the exquisite painter, but he was much more than just an artist. In fact, he used those skills to create science. Da Vinci was able to draw up inventions and better the world with his incredible abilities. Without this artist, architech, and engineer we would not know the beloved airway transportation, the airplane.
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, was born on April 15, 1452 in Anchiano, Italy. When born out of wedlock to Ser Piero da Vinci and Catalina Lippi he was already looked at as different. With two different families and seventeen siblings, he had many people to support him through life. From a young age Da Vinci had a love for art, but did not put much effort into it until the age of fifteen. His father, a lawyer and notary, was not like other successful men. With full support toward his son, he arranged him an apprenticeship under the famous renaissance artist Andrea di Clone. While studying under Clone, Da Vinci realized he wanted to master the art of sculpting and painting. With almost another fifteen years alongside Clone, Da Vinci eventually realized he wanted to use his talents for more than just creating art pieces.
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Da Vinci’s many artistic talents helped him with his future endeavours. At age thirty, he relocated to Milan to work as an engineer and architect for the Sforza Clan. Although Da Vinci was brilliant, he never had a true education. With basic reading, writing and arithmetic knowledge, most of his new career was self-taught. He grew to love science just as much as he loved art. He spent countless hours drawing up blueprints for many buildings and inventions. These were made for the intent that someone else could build them, not necessarily him. Everything that he had built was a starting point. The inventions that were drawn up were made for the intent that someone in the future would perfect them. Fascinated by military technology, Da Vinci’s inventions were mainly made for this intent. Among these military based inventions were: guns, submarines, bikes, robots, and the many famous inventions to make men fly.
Da Vinci was completely mesmerized by the concept of aviation. He took a break from his arts and took many years studying this branch of science. He decided to dedicate his time to this new passion. Using his artistic abilities, he was able to design the first creations to get man in the air. These projects took up an extensive amount of Da Vinci’s time. He had over 35,000 words and 500 sketches dealing with these perplex creations. Since he was so intrigued with these models, he put all his thoughts into words; therefore, writing the book The Codex on the Flight of Birds. Da Vinci included everything he had known or thought about aviation into this piece of literature. In this, he wrote of the many inventions he had conspired that dealt with flight. Two of his most famous creations involved in this book were aerial screw and the flying machine. Overtime, these two inventions were perfected and ended up becoming the helicopter and the flying machine. Although the aerial screw was just a thought and a blueprint, Da Vinci was mesmerized by his flying machine.
The ornithopter, or the flying machine, represents Da Vinci’s capability to bring imagination to life. The idea for this creation was inspired by winged animals such as bats and birds. This was the only one of his inventions that he devoted time into trying to make function. The ornithopter was made of a strong pine frame to which would be strong enough to hold the average human; however, it would be light enough for the individual to carry. The wingspan of this frame held steady at thirty-three feet. The pine would be covered in raw silk which would enable the ornithopter to catch air allowing the individual to soar through the air. Lying face down in the center of the ornithopter, the pilot would peddle a crank connected to a rod-and-pulley system. To increase the speed, the pilot would spin another crank placed in front of their hands. After building up speed and ability to fly, the pilot would then use a head piece modeled for steering. All of these contributed to the ornithopters ability to flap its wings and fly. Although this seemed like a perfect plan, Da Vinci soon realized that nobody could build up enough power to get it out off the ground. Although the ornithopter was unsuccessful, it was still able to be recreated and perfected over time.
The Renaissance era is credited for many of the things that we have today. This includes different inventions, art types, and music. It was an era for innovation and ideas. Leonardo Da Vinci was overall one of the most talented men during this time. Not only was he gifted in the arts, but in sciences. Da Vinci had an obsession with aviation, and we find it to be interesting as well. He is credited for first inventing the airplane, but nowhere near what we have today. His complex flying machine went from not working to being one of the most essential ways of transportation during the modern era. We found it interesting to learn that the plane we have now was inspired by both a bird and a bat. It is intriguing to learn how much the airplane has changed over the past few centuries. Just like Da Vinci, the concept of flight peaked our interest; therefore, we chose Da Vinci and his ornithopter for our Renaissance project.
For our project, we hypothesized that Da Vinci’s flying machine inspired present day aviation. There were a few reasons we had constructed this hypothesis. The model that he created for the flying machine was based completely off of a bird. The way the wings were and how they controlled the machine were exactly the same as the present day airplane. Also, he left behind many blueprints and studies that helped others understand flight in the way that he did. His models and publications were able to inspire many other people who had the same obsession with flight. Others who had the same interest would have studied the works of Di Vinci considering he was the first to put these ideas into action. Throughout this project there will be much research conducted to prove our hypothesis of how Da Vinci inspired modern day flight.
To get a more personal view of the ornithopter, we decided to build a model of the flight machine. This model required different materials and a time consuming procedure. The materials used were: brown fabric, base piece of wood, wooden piece for right wing, wooden piece for left wing, wooden piece for tale, yarn, string, paper clips, glue/adhesives, and a reference for the model. To put these together required a detailed procedure. The first step, requires you to take the given pieces and match it up with the designated parts. Next, take the parts (starting from the tail) and assemble the wooden skeleton. Just like step two, take the wings of both sides and assemble them. Once the skeleton is assembled, place the skeleton onto the wooden base. After you get the main structure finished, start to add the detail. Take the fabric and lay it onto the model and start cutting the fabric to fit the length of the model. Once you have the correct length, take the glue (or another adhesive) and attach it to the wood. For more visual detail, use yarn (or string) and wrap it around the skeleton to give the rope-like affect. After this step your model should be complete, but make sure all parts are secure.
Da Vinci was obsessed with man’s progression and opportunity to one day fly. All of his studies of birds and the possibility of making mechanical ways for man to mimic the birds ability to fly is all kept in a notebook. The notebook is now held in the Royal Library in Turin, and is now known as the “Turin Codex”. One of Da Vinci’s early dated statements about the invention, which he called “The Big Bird”, states that, “The big bird will take its first flight above the back of the Great Cecero, filling the universe with amazement, filling all the chronicles with its frame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest where it is born”. The Big Bird is the name of Da Vinci’s flying machine, influenced by the common bird. The notebook that Da Vinci used states that he had very specific drawings and sketches of certain parts of the machine, but it never showed a full view of the flying machine. Da Vinci was known for keeping his ideas and inventions secretive from the public, fearful that it would be taken and or claimed by another.
As Da Vinci states in his notes that he would take “The Big Bird” out for testing, but there are no independent records for the test flight. He may have had detailed descriptions of how the machine would function, but the fact still stands that there were three possibilities that could of happened. The first possibility is that the testing, even tho stated in the notes, was done in secrecy. The testing could have been done when people were not around and or later in the evening. The second possibility was that the testing of the machine could have failed and Da Vinci was not able to run a complete test. The last speculation would be that while testing, the machine malfunctioned resulting in the destruction of the machine. Multiple studies were made about the possibilities of the machine failing during the stated test phase. Da Vinci had thousands of sketches and detailed descriptions of the machine he invented, but only a few stated test runs with no tangible records of said tests. Da Vinci is one of the greatest minds to ever walk the earth but with the lack of recorded evidence for these testings, we are not able to say that the machine was functional or not. Da Vinci’s machine may have or may have not been a functional flying machine, but it still inspired modern day aviation. Modern day flying machines like the airplane and the helicopter, have all been inspired by Da Vinci’s research and sketches. Without Da Vinci’s love and passion to one day have the ability to fly, we would not have the efficiency and the innovation of the modern day flying machine.
From all the research and data that has been collected, our hypothesis was correct by stating that Da Vinci influenced modern day aviation. Although he was not the smartest scientist, he was the most artistic and was able to collaborate both of those talents. The flying machine was a perfect starting point for creating different aircrafts. Just like he intended, overtime his flaws were fixed and his perfect “flying machine” was accomplished. To do so, scientists used Da Vinci’s notes and ideas to build even better versions of what he designed. Once propellers and engines were involved, it fixed Da Vinci’s issue of not getting the aircraft into the air. This intelligent artist was able to conspire a whole new idea of travel and attempt to bring it to life. When failing, he left behind all of his knowledge hoping someone else would fix his mistakes. This failure of a flying machine was not a failure after all; because after all these years, it gave us the airplane.”