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One of the major inspiration to the Wright brothers was the work of German pioneer of aviation, Otto Lilienthal, who repeatedly and successfully demonstrated the possibility of heavier-than-air flying machines more than ten years before the American brothers took to the air. To demonstrate these flights, Otto Lilienthal built an artificial conical hill in 1894 near his home in Lichterfelde, approximately 600 meters north of Berlin city limits. Called Fliegeberg, or the “Fly Mountain”, it allowed Lilienthal to launch his gliders into the wind no matter which direction it was coming from. The hill is 15 meters high and still stands as a memorial to Lilienthal.

Lilienthal started building and testing gliders in 1891. Initially he used a hill near the villages of Krielow and Derwitz from which he used to jump and glide down covering distances of about 25 meters. Lilienthal was also able to use the updraft of the wind against a hill to remain stationary with respect to the ground.

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Photo credit: Kaiser2102/Wikimedia

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