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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, June 4, 2001
By 
Stefan Buchta (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
Being an engineer, I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of technology. If you study Otto Lilienthal's work and the correspondance of the Wright brothers carefully, you will agree with me that there would have been no flight in December 1903 in Kitty Hawk without this very book ! It did much more than just influence Wilbur Wright - it provided the very concepts that allowed for his creating a workable flying machine. Otto was the first trained engineer that applied the principles of dynamics to the flying problem, inventing key concepts such as "center of pressure" of a wing and drag. Wilbur uses these concepts over and over in his notebooks and letters.
But "Herr Lilienthal" did not only provide an explanation of birdflight, he was also a powerful motivator. His brother, Gustaf, writes about Otto's unconditional dedication to his dream - spending all his finances and energy into experiments and his flying machines. If you are an engineer in search of a vision - read this book !
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable book of historic significance, January 12, 2001
This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
Otto Lilienthal was a German engineer whose passion was flight. He died on August 9, 1896, after a gliding accident the day before. Just before his death, he said, "Sacrifices must be made."

This is his book. It was read by virtually all of the original aviation pioneers. The American aviation pioneers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, who [Orville] made their first successful powered flight on December 17, 1903, considered him their hero. Lilienthal studied birds closely, and from them he learned how they change the dihedral and curvature of their wings in flight, in order to conform to the conditions of the ocean of air in which they swam. The Wrights learned from him, and warped the wings of their craft in flight to bank and turn.

We are justified in calling Lilienthal the Father of Gliding Experiments--perhaps even the Father of Aviation. Next time you lift off in a jetliner, it would not be amiss if you thought of this man who literally gave his life for his dream of flight.

Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation was first published in 1891, and this, the 2001 edition, is an unabridged copy of the original, complete with Lilienthal's own diagrams and formulae, and with a Preface written in 1911 by A.W. Isenthal, who translated the original into English after Otto's death. Like the Wright brothers, Otto was assisted in his work by his brother Gustave, who died in 1933. Some of this book was written by Gustave.

This is truly a remarkable volume. It represents Lilienthal's life work and is a compilation of the results of the numerous experiments made by the brothers. Although some of Lilienthal's calculations have been improved upon since this book was written, his work was the first light to pierce the darkness of ignorance on what has since become the science of aerodynamics. Today's hang gliding enthusiasts owe him a great debt of gratitude.

The art of photography was developed in France circa 1839, and thus this book contains several photographs of Lilienthal gliding in his light, unpowered aircraft.

If you are an aviation enthusiast, of whatever age or experience, this is a book you will want to add to your library.

Joseph Pierre
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reveals a unique aspect of American aviation, April 14, 2001
This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
Birdflight As The Basis Of Aviation reveals a unique aspect of American aviation. Otto Lilienthal flying in a bird-wing based manually operated glider -- in the 1890s! From 1891 to his fatal gliding accident in 1986, Lilienthal did more than two thousand airborne glides and inspired the Wright Brothers to investigate human flight. The Wright Brothers cited Lilienthal as one of their heroes and carefully studied his work, developed their own theories and designs, and went on to invent the first working heavier than air aircraft. Originally published in 1889, Birdflight As The Basis Of Aviation features more than none hundred drawings, graphs, and diagrams (including many historic photographs of Lilienthal flying) and is a very welcome contribution to contemporary aviation history reference collections -- and a "must" for all American aviation history buffs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aviation history starts here!, January 14, 2012
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This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
This is the only English translation of the classic 1889 book by the great German aviation pioneer, Otto Lilienthal. This is a reprint of the 1911 British book. It also contains additional material written by Otto's surviving brother, Gustave, for the 1911 publication, including photos of many of the gliders built and flown by Otto after the 1889 German book's publication. Between 1890 and 1896 Otto designed and tested a variety of gliders, including the first two biplanes to ever fly. He was killed by a testflight gone bad in mid-1896. His 1889 book was the starting point for the Wright brothers (Orville painstakingly translated it) and they chose to build biplanes from the beginning -- using Lilienthal's airfoils and data from his book.
The reproduction is flawless - the publisher had access to the original plates, so there are no legibility issues. The several fold-out pages of graph form airfoil data in the back of the original book have been reduced in size and printed on single pages. I'd prefer them original size, but they are perfectly legible at their reduced scale, so no harm done there.
The book's price is very low and anyone interested in aviation history ought to own a copy, as aviation history really starts with Herr Lilienthal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Otto was an engineer, April 14, 2013
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This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
Once you read the "How We Invented the Airplane" by Orville Wright, you realize just how closely they depended on the works of Otto Lilienthal to invent controlled flight. Otto was an engineer so the book has engineering equations. After Otto's untimely death, the Wright Brothers were able to take Otto's work and apply it towards inventing controlled flight. I clearly see the difference between "pure research" done by Otto and "applied research" done by the Wright brothers. It is always a struggle as to who should get the credit as applied research cannot succeed without basic research. When you read both books, you realize the credit for inventing flight should go to Otto & the Wright brothers. Suggest reading Orville's book first.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Birdflight As a Basis Of Aviation, January 27, 2013
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This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
Still reading, excellent - all professional - when words counted. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
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5.0 out of 5 stars Birdflight, May 25, 2012
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This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
This was a very informative and a well-written book about Otto Lilienthal and his experiences with early aviation. It was very helpful to me when I was studying the early history of aviation. It was incredible to think that someone would risk their life in their attempt to fly. Lilienthal lead the way for others like Orville and Wilbur Wright by writing this book and the Wright Brothers considered him their hero.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I expected., January 11, 2007
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This review is from: Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation (Paperback)
This book is a great glimpse into the future from a twentieth century POV. I've enjoyed the work documented as well as the short bio on thier (Otto and his brothers) lives.

I bought this book to research the free thinking pre-wright brothers designs for sculpture projects. There prenty of information to get into his head and see where he was coming from as well as pics.
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Birdflight As the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation
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