History of Flight/Antiquity

Ancient myths and legends offer many examples of the human dream of flying like birds. An ancient Greek legend has King Corinth, with the aid of the winged horse Pegasus, flying in to battle a multi-headed monster. Ancient Persian legend has the King capturing eagles, and attaching them to his throne so he can fly around, checking on his kingdom. One of the most well-known Greek legends is that of Icarus and Daedalus, a father and son who flew by fashioning wings from wax, only to crash back to earth after soaring too close to the sun and melting their artificial wings.

In practical terms, around 400 B.C.E. The Chinese invented the kite. This simple device lead them to think that humans might fly with the help of a kite. While that dream proved elusive at the time, the invention of kites opened the road for other important flight discoveries such as balloons, and gliders.

The history of human flight is primarily one of disappointment until the 18th century. Many brave inventors tried to achieve flight, often by attempting to mimic flying as birds do. Some tried to fly by attaching wings to their arms and jumping from high cliffs, but these episodes of course ended in disaster.