30. May 2016

Lilienthal glider meets A380

Two aerospace pioneers
Image 1/2, Credit: CC-BY 3.0 DLR/Airbus.

Two aerospace pioneers

Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport is the backdrop for the historic encounter of a replica of Otto Lilienthal's first series-built aircraft and an A380, the largest passenger aircraft to date. DLR scientist Christian Schnepf mounted the glider as Lilienthal's double.
Past meets present
Image 2/2, Credit: CC-BY 3.0 DLR/Airbus.

Past meets present

The so-called Normalsegelapparat, the normal glider, has a wing span of 6.7 metres and weighs only 20 kilograms - a real lightweight in comparison with its A380 counterpart, with a wing span of 80 metres and a weight of 569 tons.

125 years of aviation comes together in one image. Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport was the scene of a historic encounter between a pair of unique aircraft. A replica of the world's first series-built flying machine by Otto Lilienthal, built by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), met the largest passenger aircraft in history, the Airbus A380.

The Lilienthal glider was brought to Hamburg for a photo shoot, producing images that illustrate the evolution of the aviation pioneer's dream just 125 years after Otto Lilienthal first took to the skies. Lilienthal himself could never have envisaged that up to 853 passengers would one day be shuttled from one place to the next on board giants such as the A380, with its wingspan of almost 80 metres and weight of 569 tons. In contrast, Lilienthal's titchy Normalsegelapparat (the normal glider) had just 6.70 metres of wingspan and a weight of 20 kilograms.

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Lilienthal glider meets Airbus A380
A replica of the world's first series-built flying machine by Otto Lilienthal, built by DLR, met the largest passenger aircraft in history, the Airbus A380.
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

DLR built a replica of the world's first series aircraft, which it then put through its paces in a series of wind tunnel tests. The intention was to honour the life's work of aviation pioneer Lilienthal, who 125 years ago became the first person to fulfil the dream of manned flight.

"It is staggering to see how many of Otto Lilienthal's ideas still hold true within modern aviation," said Prof. Rolf Henke, Member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for Aeronautics Research. “All modern aircraft are assessed based on criteria that Lilienthal defined – among them the polar curves that carry his name (Lilienthalpolare). Not only was he the first person to fly in a stable aircraft, he was also the first aviation scientist."

Tom Enders, CEO of the Airbus Group, said: "Since the Wright brothers, all manufacturers of aircraft have engineered their flying machines based on Otto Lilienthal's principle of 'heavier than air'. It was a long journey from the first flight attempts in 1891 to today's modern passenger jets. The Lilienthal glider and the A380 both exemplify the pioneering spirit that makes the aviation industry such a fascinating field of enterprise. We are proud of our predecessors and delighted that DLR has reconstructed this flying machine."

The replica of the Lilienthal glider will be on display at the ILA Berlin Air Show from 1 to 4 June 2016.

Contact
  • Jens Wucherpfennig
    Corporate Communications, Göttingen and Hanover
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)

    Public Affairs and Communications
    Telephone: +49 551 709-2108
    Fax: +49 551 709-12108
    Bunsenstraße 10
    37073 Göttingen
    Contact
  • Heiko Stolzke
    Airbus

    Manager Media Relations
    Telephone: +49 40 7437-3016

    Contact
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  • Two aerospace pioneers

    Credit: CC-BY 3.0 DLR/Airbus.  |  Download
    Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport is the backdrop for the historic encounter of a replica of Otto Lilienthal's first series-built aircraft and an A380, the largest passenger aircraft to date. DLR scientist Christian Schnepf mounted the glider as Lilienthal's double.
  • Past meets present

    Credit: CC-BY 3.0 DLR/Airbus.  |  Download
    The so-called Normalsegelapparat, the normal glider, has a wing span of 6.7 metres and weighs only 20 kilograms - a real lightweight in comparison with its A380 counterpart, with a wing span of 80 metres and a weight of 569 tons.

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