Gliders - History of Gliders


Very few experiences excited the mind like that of flying through the air. From the earliest stories of wings allowing for short flights between buildings, to the more advanced and high-tech gliders of the day, feeling the rush of gliding through the air continues to be a dream for many.

The first successful, but brief, wing-borne flight occurred in 1849 based off a scientific glider design by George Cayley. Soon after, a number of glider developers continued to build and fly various glider designs. The most successful of these inventors was Otto Lilienthal, who made over 2,000 flights with his design! Continuing to develop the glider, the Wright Brothers even invented a trio of manned gliders on their way to develop machine powered flight vessels.

Used for military purposes, recreation, and recovery, gliders were built by a variety of governmental and private organizations. In World War II, gliders were developed to assist in the landing of troops, and for carrying heavy equipment into combat. NASA even developed a glider to recover the Gemini space capsules after launch. Although powered flying technologies were created at the time, the developed of a glider is a cheap, effective alternative that is still occasionally used.

Today, however, gliders are mainly used for recreational purposes. Typically in the form of a hang glider or paraglider, an adventurous person can soar through the air, unaided by mechanical machinery. Surprisingly, these forms of flying can move quite quickly, reaching up to 60 km/h with the right weather conditions! This provides for the exhilarating flying experience desired by many.

Through the creation of a paper airplane, even the smallest child can receive a thrill from gliding through the air. Today's gliders are much advanced from these paper designs and those originally developed by various enthusiasts to soar between buildings. The continued advancement of the glider technology sustains the curiosity and excitement present in the mind of every potential flyer.

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