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Short Biography of Otto Lilienthal

(A detailed biography does not exist in English, yet. Good German ones have been written by Runge/Lukasch, Schwipps and Seifert/Waßermann.)

The Californian Christopher Dempsey has composed a very sensitive biographical poem about Otto Lilienthal.

family tree of Otto Lilienthal (beginning circa 1720 and descending down to his children)

23. 5. 1848 Born in Anklam
1856 - 1864 Grammar school in Anklam; His subjects included the study of birds and his mathematics teacher was Gustav Spörer (an important German astronomer)
1864 - 1866 Regional Technical School in Potsdam
1866/1867 Practical training at the Schwartzkopff Company in Berlin (mechanical engineering)
1867 - 1870 Royal Technical Academy in Berlin
from 1867 First experiments, the results of which can be found in his book (published 1889) about the physical basics of human flight
1870/71 Voluntary one year military service as a fusilier in the Franco-Prussian War during the siege of Paris
1871 Employment with the Weber Company (mechanical engineering firm), Berlin
from 1872 Construction engineer at the C. Hoppe Machine Factory , Berlin
1873 The Lilienthal brothers became members of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. Lilienthal gives his first public lecture about the theory of the flight of birds.
from 1874 Systematic experiments on the force of air on artificial wings with models and kites and on the characteristics of natural wind
1877 Patent on a machine used in mining - the first of 23  patents by Lilienthal (among these were 4 aviation patents)
11. 6. 1878 Marriage to Agnes Fischer, daughter of a miner
1879 Birth of their son Otto (the first of four children)
Invention of what was later known as the "Anker-Steinbaukasten" (stone building blocks for children) together with Gustav Lilienthal
1883 His own mechanical engineering company for boilers and steam engines in Berlin
1886 Membership in the "Deutscher Verein zur Förderung der Luftschiffahrt" (German Association for Promotion of Airship Navigation) in Berlin
1889 Publication of the book "Birdflight as the basis of aviation" (English translation 1911)
1890 Lilienthal introduces a 25% profit sharing scheme for the workers in his company. First experiments with manned flying machines
1891 Jumps and first flights of a distance of about 80 feet in Derwitz/Krilow near Potsdam

Improved Flights with a new glider. Active interest in the Berlin 'Volkstheater' (people's theatre)

1893 Construction of a flight station near his home. Commencement of his practice flights in the Rhinower Hills (Stölln/Rhinow near Neustadt/Dosse). Gliding up to a distance of about 800 feet.
Construction of several flying machines, among these a flapping wing machine driven by a motor.
Construction of his so-called 'Fliegeberg' (flight hill) which still exists in Lichterfelde, Berlin
1894 Serial production of the so-called "normal-glider"
1895 Visits by flight technicians from different countries, among these S. P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and N. J. Shukowski, aerodynamics expert from Moscow.
1896 New experiments in the area of wing stroke
9.8.1896 Crash after an unsuccessful attempt to steer a "Normal glider" through a heat eddy
10.8.1896 Death in Berlin