By Anant Pai
The enormous and the Dwarf: A Jataka story ( Amar Chitra Katha)
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Additional resources for Amar Chitra Katha - The Giant and the Dwarf: A Jataka Tale
Otto would run around his big property dragging his gliders behind on a string, desperately trying to get them to fly. Then someone told him that George Cayley had built his own hill to launch his gliders from. Well, of course Otto Lilienthal immediately wanted a hill as well. In 1891, he scavenged some dirt from a nearby construction site and built himself an 18-metre-hill. Now he could fly his gliders whichever way the wind blew. Otto’s gliders looked a lot like modern hang-gliders. His most successful one, number 11 of 1894, featured huge wings spanning 4 metres, and a tail very like the tails on modern planes.
In fact Otto was human. He was born in 1848 in a place called Pomerania, in the old Kingdom of Prussia. It is now a part of modern Germany, but back then it was a separate country. As a child, Otto was always fascinated by birds. So you won’t be surprised to learn that as an adult, Otto became obsessed with flight. During the daytime, he made his living running a small engineering factory, but at night Otto would design ornithopters. 53 He soon realised these crazy contraptions could never fly, so he switched to building fixed-wing gliders.
This was yet another great moment in aviation history. But the coachman was not celebrating. While his flight had been smooth, his landing was a bit rough – violent even! He wasn’t badly injured, but he’d had enough of being pushed off hills in a glider. He declared his career as a pilot was over. In fact, he resigned as Cayley’s coachman as well, and was last seen running back to town. Meanwhile old George had a grin from one 80-year-old ear to the other. Not only had his piloted glider just flown a record distance of 500 metres, but he had shown the world that fixed-wing aircraft were the way of the future.