Thursday, 20 February 2014

Da Vinci, iL Volo Instrumente, Flying Machine

Da Vinci sketched many partial drawings of wings and fuselages - but did not leave a single complete set of plans for a flying machine.  There is disagreement about whether he ever built a model or actual machine based on his drawings.

Back in 1961 Robert Coyle published plans reconstructing a flying machine based on the drawings in the Codex Atlanticus and the Codex on the Flight of Birds.  The plans were published in a museum series kit by Incunabula and Petri Dish Publications.  Robert's work remains a stunning attempt to breath life into Da Vinci's sketches.

I started the build in 2006, but put it aside when we started to research a super-tribunal for the ACT.  I finished it four years later in 2010, a year after the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal came into operation.  I have been tossing around the possibility of building a full sized version out of light mountain Ash - and this weekend started the long haul of collecting the wood necessary for the framework.

The wings themselves are made out of 22 wood struts each with exactly the same graceful bend.  Each strut is made out of a number of pieces of local timber glued together to give the right shape.  Once the glue sets and the pieces are assembled, the entire structure has incredible strength for almost no weight.  The wings are hinged half way along - ropes along the leading edge allow the pilot to vary the shape of the wing tip.

The fuselage envisages a person strapped to a board, moving the wings and pedaling.  Leather straps hold a tail to the fuselage and wings for stability.  The wings are covered in mesh rather than silk.

And the final form, wall mounted.

It will take a little while to complete the full size version :)  A good project for over winter - with the first frosts hitting here in the Australian high country tonight.

Peter Quinton
February 2014 - revised April 2014