Model of Leonardo da Vinci's second proposed ornithopter, c 1480s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and the outstanding all-round genius of the Renaisance period. He had a wide knowledge and understanding far beyond his times of most of the sciences, including biology, anatomy, physiology, hydrodynamics, mechanics and aeronautics. His notebooks, written in mirror writing, contain original remarks on all of these areas.