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Sources and Documents

Otto Lilienthal died a mere century ago with the significance of his work already recognised during his lifetime. However, there remains a great deal missing about the actual devices he used. From his numerous flying machines only two types remain, (the "storm wing model" in Vienna and some "normal gliders") - and these have been significantly reconstructed.
From the numerous measuring apparatuses, there are no more than three models of airfoils remaining in the "Deutsches Museum" in Munich. Since the museum's foundation a very extensive documentation of Lilienthal's life and work has been prepared ("Otto Lilienthal" (German), Publisher: Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Verlag, 1991). In 1993, the well-known correspondence Lilienthal carried on with others about flight technology or aircraft engineering was published by the Otto Lilienthal Museum. (W. Schwipps: "Warum es so schwierig ist, das Fliegen zu erfinden")
Detailed knowledge about the completed flying machines and successful flight attempts (which include over 140 photographs) are mainly to be found in the numerous publications by Lilienthal.

Several other sources have come to light in the numerous essays by Halle, Schwipps, Seifert , Nitsch and Waßermann, among others.

Lilienthal photo archives

  • The 137 known photos from the period between 1891 to 1896, which were made during Lilienthal's test flights, are documents not only of aviation history, but of the history of photography as well. With the development of sensitive film material and high shutter speed, "action photography," the production of "moving pictures" as a preliminary stage of cinematography became possible.
  • some photographs (portraits etc.) from Lilienthal's estate.

Lilienthal Essays and Correspondence

Collection of essays and letters, the complete known correspondence of Otto Lilienthal, and his annotated bibliography.


In our online-archives you have access to catalogues of the collection, photo archives, the archives and the library.

Zugang online-Archiv


Only four of Otto Lilienthal's 25 patents have flying machines as their subject. Most of the patents deal with his work as a machanical engineer and some (games, toy building blocks) are inventions of his brother Gustav Lilienthal, patented in Otto's name and vice versa (a mining machine).
Moreover, in the museum archives exists a collection of aviation patents awarded by the "Kaiserliches Patentamt" dating as late as 1910.

Museum Collections

A catalogue of the museums collection an of the collection of hang gliders is presented online as well as catalogues of the museum's library and archives.