Long before the Wright Brothers were even born, man has been trying to take to the air. One such lesser-known flight pioneer was Brother Eilmer. Eilmer was a monk from Malmesbury Abbey, England when he made an early attempt at flying in 1010 AD.
An account of the event can still be found in William of Malmesbury’s book Gesta Regum Anglorum.
It is said that he was inspired by the legend of Icarus to build a basic glider and attempt to fly. His glider was built from a wooden frame and either linen or parchment.
He would later launch himself from about 18 meters above ground level, glided 200 meters and subsequently panicked and crashed, breaking both his legs.
He returned to the drawing board and planned his next flight only to halted by an embargo from his Abbot to stop any further attempts.
Brother Eilmer’s desire to fly, and others that followed him, like the Ottoman Celebi to the great Leonardo da Vinci, would drive our understanding of flight and aerodynamics.