SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The history of attempts to design and construct a successful man-powered flying machine (ornithopter) includes Leonardo da Vinci and Roger Bacon. This apparatus built by Besnier, a locksmith from SablÃ© in France was reported in the Journal des Savants of 1678 which gives a full description of its design and operation and how Besnier graduated from launching himself from stools, tables, windows and eventually garrets, from whence he managed to land safely after flying over rooftops. The Journal concludes that Besnier, after some success, sold the wings to a fairground performer.
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