The first more or less reliable historical account of attempted flight happened around the year A.D. 1000 in Nisabur, Arabia. The would-be aviator in question is al-Djawhari, the great Turkish scholar from Farab.
Sometime between the years 1002 and 1010 (several different accounts vary), al-Djawhari tied two pieces of wood to his arms and climbed the roof of a tall mosque in Nisabur. According to eyewitnesses, the scholar's bold move drew a large crowd, to whom he announced:
That, unfortunately, he did not do. Al-Djawhari fell straight to the ground and was killed, stamping into history the first recorded attempt at human flight.
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More Great Links
- Abrams, Michael. "Birdmen, Batmen, and Skyflyers: Wingsuits and the Pioneers Who Flew in Them, Fell in Them, and Perfected Them." New York: Harmony, 2006.
- Air Museum, Alverca, Portugal. "History - Torto." 2004. (July 7, 2008)http://www.emfa.pt/www/po/musar/historia/torto.php?>
- Chanute, O. "Progress in Flying Machines." New York: Courier Dover Publications, 1894.
- Hart, Clive. "The Prehistory of Flight." Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, 1985.
- Rumerman, Judy. "The prehistory of powered flight -- an overview." U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. 2003. (July 7, 2008)http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Prehistory/PH-OV.htm
Vintage plane wrecks scatter the globe. Learn more about the plane wrecks in this HowStuffWorks Now article.