What did Leonardo da Vinci know about airplanes?

SMITHSONIAN'S NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM DA VINCI FLIGHT OF B

courtesy Smithsonian Institution Library

 

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will be displaying Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex on the Flight of Birds,” from Sept. 13 until Oct. 22.

The Codex – an early notebook – was created ca. 1505 and shows that da Vinci had a keen interest in human flight.

He explored bird flight and behavior and made sketches and descriptions of devices and aerodynamic principles related to mechanical flight that predate the invention of the airplane by 400 years.

In addition to displaying the original notebook, the museum is setting up interactive stations that allow visitors to virtually leaf through the 18 folios (two-sided pages) of the Codex.

A model of an ornithopter, an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings, will be on view at the entrance of the exhibition. The model is based on a drawing by da Vinci.

Can’t make it to Washington D.C. during the 40 days of this special exhibition? Here’s a short video about the Codex.