20. December 2019
A meeting of the pioneers of aviation

The biplanes constructed by Lilienthal and the Wright brothers fly together for the first time

Meeting of the pioneers of aviation
Meeting of the pioneers of aviation
Image 1/4, Credit: DLR

Meeting of the pioneers of aviation

At Kitty Hawk, Otto Lilienthal's ‘Big Biplane’ (right) and the Wright glider were seen together in the air.
Replica of Otto Lilienthal’s ‘Big Biplane’ before take-off
Replica of Otto Lilienthal’s ‘Big Biplane’ before take-off
Image 2/4, Credit: DLR

Replica of Otto Lilienthal’s ‘Big Biplane’ before take-off

The American hang glider pilot Andrew Beem flew the Lilienthal biplane.
Replica of the Wright 1902 glider
Replica of the Wright 1902 glider
Image 3/4, Credit: DLR

Replica of the Wright 1902 glider

The replica of the Wright glider was flown by Billy Vaughn (Kitty Hawk Kites).
Flight in the dunes
Flight in the dunes
Image 4/4, Credit: DLR

Flight in the dunes

The recent flights took place in the sand dunes of the Jockey's Ridge State Park. As the slope of the dunes is not as steep as it was in the past, the gliders were pulled into the air by towlines.

Replicas of gliders constructed by Otto Lilienthal and the Wright brothers flew together at Kitty Hawk.

For the first time, replicas of two of the most influential aircraft from the early days of aviation have flown together. Between 14 and 16 December 2019, Otto Lilienthal's 'Big Biplane' from 1895 and the Wright glider from 1902 were together during a demonstration at Kitty Hawk in the USA.

Otto Lilienthal is considered to be the first human aviator, while in 1903 the Wright brothers made the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. "It is pleasing to see replicas of both pioneers together," said Rolf Henke, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board member responsible for aeronautics research. "Lilienthal's achievements were used by virtually all subsequent aviation pioneers, including the Wright brothers." An employee at DLR Göttingen, Markus Raffel, had already made flights in California at the end of July with the historically correct replica of the world's first biplane from Lilienthal. Raffel was building on the scientific research that DLR had conducted in wind tunnels, among other things, to mark the 125th anniversary of the first human flight in 2016 by constructing a replica of Lilienthal's monoplane.

The recent flights took place in the sand dunes of the Jockey's Ridge State Park. As the slope of the dunes is not as steep as it was in the past, the gliders were pulled into the air using towlines. The Lilienthal glider was flown by the American hang glider pilot Andrew Beem (Windsports, Los Angeles), and the Wright glider by Billy Vaughn (Kitty Hawk Kites).

A video of the flight demonstration at Kitty Hawk is available below and on Facebook.

More information, images and videos about DLR’s Lilienthal project can be found here.

Video: Replicas of gliders constructed by Otto Lilienthal and the Wright brothers flew together at Kitty Hawk
For the first time, replicas of two of the most influential aircraft from the early days of aviation have flown together. Between 14 and 16 December 2019, Otto Lilienthal's 'Big Biplane' from 1895 and the Wright glider from 1902 were together during a demonstration at Kitty Hawk in the USA.
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

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
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Markus Raffel
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology
    Helicopters Department
    Telephone: +49 551 709-2817

    Contact
Dossiers on this topic

Cookies help us to provide our services. By using our website you agree that we can use cookies. Read more about our Privacy Policy and visit the following link: Privacy Policy

Main menu