25 Greatest Flying Machines Ever Created

Humans seem to have been obsessed by the idea of flight for millennia. In fact, most ancient civilizations´ mythologies include legends about some flying beasts or even human figures equipped with wings. One of the best known stories is that of Icarus and his father Daedalus, who created wings from feathers and wax to escape from the Greek island of Crete. While this story is just a legend that can hardly be based on an actual event, a number of real attempts to fly have been made and recorded over the past centuries. The earliest flying machines were mostly bird-like wings made from various materials, stiffened cloaks and other devices designed to fly by jumping off a tower, hill or cliff. However, as physical issues of lift, stability, and control were poorly understood back then, most of those attempts ended in serious injuries or deaths. Despite the enormous danger and extremely high rate of tragic accidents, people driven by the strong desire to fly have been coming up with more and more sophisticated flying machines designs. To show you some of the best pieces, we have compiled this list with 25 Greatest Flying Machines Ever Created. From the earliest flying machines such as bamboo-copters and ornithopters to high-tech jet airliners and spacecraft, here are 25 Greatest Flying Machines Ever Created.

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Bamboo-copterSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

One of the world´s oldest flying machines, the bamboo-copter (also known as bamboo dragonfly or Chinese top) is a toy helicopter rotor that flies up when its shaft is rapidly spun. Invented in China around 400 BCE, the bamboo-copter consisted of feathers at the end of a bamboo stick, which was rapidly spun between the hands and released into flight.


Sky lantern

Sky lanternSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

The sky lantern is a small hot air balloon made of paper and a wooden frame with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. It is estimated the Chinese experimented with sky lanterns from as early as the 3rd century BCE, but traditionally, their invention is attributed to the sage and military strategist Zhuge Liang (181–234 AD).


Hot air balloon

Hot air balloonSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology. The first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes in 1783 in Paris in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers. Modern hot air balloons can travel thousands of miles. In fact, the longest recorded hot air balloon flight was 7,672 km (4,767 mi) from Japan to Northern Canada.


Solar balloon

Solar balloonSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Technically a type of the hot air balloon, the solar balloon gains buoyancy when the air inside is heated by solar radiation, usually with the help of black or dark balloon material. The heated air inside the solar balloon expands and has lower density than the surrounding air. Usage of solar balloons is mostly in the toy market, but some solar balloons are large enough for human flights.



OrnithopterSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Inspired by the flight of birds, bats, and insects, the ornithopter is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Most ornithopters are unmanned, but manned ornithopters have also been built. One of the earliest ornithopter concepts were designed by Leonardo da Vinci as early as in the 15th century. In 1894, Otto Lilienthal, German aviation pioneer, performed what is considered the first manned ornithopter flight.

SEE ALSO: 25 Most Expensive Things In The World »

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