Top 10 Bungled Attempts at One-person Flight


Al-Djawhari (c. 1000)

­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:

"O Pe­ople! No one has made this discovery before. Now I will fly before your very eyes. The most important thing on Earth is to fly to the skies. That I will do now."

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.

To learn lots more on how flying actually works, glide safely to the next page.

Rela­ted HowStuffWorks Articles

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)>
  • 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)­­



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