Otto Lilienthal

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Otto Lilienthal
Karl Wilhelm Otto Lilienthal
BirthplaceAnklam, Province of Pomerania
NationalityPrussian, German
Known for Successful gliding experiments

Lilienthal, Otto

(ô`tō lē`lyəntäl), 1848–96, German aeronautical engineer, a pioneer in his experiments with glidersglider,
type of aircraft resembling an airplane but having at most a small auxiliary propulsion plant and usually no means of propulsion at all. The typical modern glider has very slender wings and a streamlined body.
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. He made major developments in the glider based on his observations of birds and wrote a number of books on aviation. His brother, Gustav Lilienthal, 1849–1933, was associated with Otto in his flying experiments and continued them after his brother's death.

Lilienthal, Otto


Born May 23, 1848, in Anklam; died Aug. 9, 1896, in Berlin. German engineer; pioneer in aviation.

Lilienthal completed many flights on gliders that he designed himself. He came to the conclusion that, all other conditions being equal, a wing with a concave profile provides more lift than a flat wing. He proved by experiments that the magnitude of lifting force of wings varies with the change in their angle of attack. For this reason, the correlation diagram between the frontal resistance coefficient and the lift coefficient of an aircraft has been named after Lilienthal—that is, the Lilienthal polar. He offered an explanation of the factors involved in the gliding of birds (”The Flight of Birds as a Basis for Aviation,” 1889). He was killed near the town of Steglitz (near Berlin) during a flight from Mount Rinower. N. E. Zhukovskii valued Lilienthal’s experiments highly.


Zhukovskii, N. E. “Letatel’nyi apparat Otto Lilientalia.” In Zhukovskii, N. E. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 9. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
Zhukovskii, N. E. “O gibeli vozdukhoplavatelia Otto Lilientalia (Rech’).” Ibid.