Otto Lilienthal, aviation pioneer, during one of his last flights, 1896.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lilienthal (1849-1896) was a German scientist who believed that the route to succesful flight was via ornithopters - machines based on the flapping motions used by birds. He was the first true heavier-than-air pilot, and made over 2000 glider flights, launched from the tops of hills. He was eventually killed in August 1896 when his glider stalled and he fell 50 feet to the ground.