"It was only a short time after returning from the desert during the summer of 1948 and just before school started at around age 10 or so, that I removed the flying machine my uncle and I built from the hanging position of it's construction lair and hauled it up to the rooftop of the second story building across the street. Then, holding onto the machine for dear life, I jumped off.
"At first the craft seemed easily able to maintain the same two-story height advantage over quite some distance. But then, partway into the flight, instead of continuing in the direction I wanted, it began tipping lower on the right and turning. Without ailerons or maneuverable rudder controls and with inexperienced over-correcting on my part creating an adverse yaw followed by a sudden stall, the ensuing results ended with a somewhat dramatic drop, crashing into the porch and partway through the front windows of the house diagonally across the way."
THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE: Their Life and Times Together
Anybody who is familiar with or has read any amount of my online works knows that as a young boy I was really big into comic books. It seems like a large portion of almost everything I learned came from reading them. Over and over, even today any number of things I write about I often refer back to something I read at one time or the other in a comic book, that is, except maybe for one major time when there was not just comic books involved, but the coming together of comic books AND Saturday afternoon matinee movies of the day. That time, after what I saw in the movie and what I read in the comic book, the two merged together to such an extent that I, using a Da Vinci-like flying machine I built myself with my uncle's help, flew diagonally across a busy neighborhood intersection well over two-stories high in after seeing the 1947 black and white Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie Tarzan and the Huntress combined with a comic book also released in 1947 that I read about Da Vinci's attempt to build and fly a machine in a story titled 500 Years Too Soon.
DA VINCI: TRUE COMICS, NO. 58, MARCH 1947
(please click image)
The comic book was True Comics, No. 58 with a cover date of March, 1947. The movie was Tarzan and the Huntress that graphically depicts Tarzan's son Boy building a glider-type plane capable of flying while carrying him in full movie status was released at almost the exact same time, Saturday April 5, 1947. In the movie, as clearly depicted in the graphic below, Tarzan's chimp Cheetah steals the craft flying it then crashing it before Boy has a chance to try it out himself.
My Uncle was a strong promoter of me building an actual flying machine based on a Da Vinci design as so presented in the quote at the top of the text for a number of reasons, but most prominently so --- cutting to the quick --- because of how it is explained in the following as found in ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds and LEONARDO DA VINCI: 500 Years To Soon, linked above:
"At the time my older brother loved to build model airplanes and continued to build bigger and better models until eventually he was constructing huge gas engine powered remote control six-foot wingspan B-24 Liberators. He was also the apple of my father's eye. My uncle, noticing the situation, decided I too could impress my dad, only through art."(source)
My older brother, in a highly one sided position, primarily his, and my stepmother did not get along very well. Any attempt on the part of my Stepmother to make things right never worked. The fully equipped workshop she provided him for building model planes fell on deaf ears. Bottom line he hated her and made her life as miserable as possible. He remembered our real mother and our family and would not accept our stepmother in any role --- plus she interfered with his relationship with our father. He wanted him exclusively and did not like the fact that she took basically all my dad's time. In the end my brother got so belligerent and hard to handle they decided to put him in the McKinley School for Boys in Van Nuys and later in the California Military Academy in Baldwin Hills.
Sometime before the need of a private school, my uncle, seeing my older brother was quickly spiraling down into an untenable position that could possibly end up actually worse for him in real life than how he viewed things at the time, moved the Da Vinci flying machine from the forefront of my activities to the back burner thinking if my brother and I might spend some quality time working together on a mutual project we both liked, using me as a bridge between he and my stepmother, things might smooth out. In the end such was not the case so my uncle and I resumed our work completing the flying machine, but still having no set plans when and if we were going to attempt a flight.
Thus enters Batman.
No sooner had school let out for the summer of 1948 than my uncle and I took off resuming our travels in the desert southwest, not really returning for any length of time on a permanent basis until towards the end of summer. I figure the date for my flight was the weekend of either August 21-22 or 28-29, 1948, having arrived at those dates following a long series of discussions with my uncle some 20 years later for reasons expanded on below. However, selected dates notwithstanding, why I chose to override any possible outright no's or potential misgivings my uncle may have have carried within himself about me actually attempting a flight in the machine was spurred on primarily by the Batman story that appears above.
The story of Batman and Da Vinci titled "The Batman History Forgot" appeared in the #46 April-May 1948 issue of Batman meaning it was available for purchase just weeks before school let out for the summer of 1948. In so saying, I picked up a copy and carried it with me throughout the whole summer reading it over and over every chance I got. By the time I returned home near the end summer just before school started, the story had become so ingrained in me about Da Vinci actually successfully flying his machine as opposed to the results found in "500 Years Too Soon" that I figured the first chance I got nothing was going to stop me from launching the machine and doing the same.
The obvious fact that both of the August weekend dates for the flight fall perfectly into the necessary timeframe relative to the April-May 1948 Batman comic book, my summer and my back to school times, although helpful, is propped-up fairly strongly as well because of two other prevailing reasons. Although neither of the reasons are specifically able to be narrowed down one over-the-other because both reasons are viable in their own way. The first weekend date shows promise because of my uncle wanting me to 'impress my dad through art.' It just so happens that my father's birthday fell almost on the first weekend date if not the actual date of the flight. My uncle felt I may have selected that weekend to coincide with my father's birthday as a sort of birthday present. The strength in the second weekend involves the night my stepmother came into the garage where the wrecked flying machine was hanging from the rafters. She told my uncle she thought what we were doing was a highly admirable endeavor, but that he should watch over me a little more carefully as I could have killed myself. As she was walking out she turned toward my uncle and said she had heard 'Howard' was there, meaning billionaire Howard Hughes who had come by to see the wrecked craft, then said he, Hughes, should be looking out after his own boys a little more carefully too. That bit of cryptic chit-chat meant nothing to me at the time. It was only years later when my uncle explained the meaning behind what she said that it took on any semblance of understanding.
Although it doesn't matter much in the overall scheme of things which of the two weekends are selected because both pretty much narrow down the time frame of the flight within a few days, I personally opt for the second weekend, August 28-29, 1948, as being the most accurate. I do so because one, I don't think my father's birthday meant anything to me one way or the other in those days because as long as I can remember it never has, even up to this day. Secondly, the comments of my Stepmother as explained by my uncle. When she said something about Hughes looking out after his own boys she was making reference to film actor Robert Mitchum. Hughes owned RKO studios and Mitchum was Hughes' top actor. On Wednesday September 1, 1948 Mitchum was arrested in a highly publicized marijuana bust that most people thought would end his career, which was far from the case. It must have been a day or so after Mitchum's arrest that my stepmother came into the garage and passed on her cryptic remark about Hughes' looking out after his own boys a little more carefully.
With me crashing into the porch and partway through the front windows of the house diagonally across the way with the flying machine, like Da Vinci moving on to other things, so did I, ending any covert attempts at manned flight. When I reached my mid-high school years I met a man that I call my Mentor in all my writings. A U.S. American born citizen, he had been a pilot in World War I flying for the British in the Royal Flying Corps, joining at age 16 before the U.S. entered the war after having crossed into Canada. I always felt we strengthened our bonds as friends initially because of his interest in flying and my early childhood attempt at manned-flight, re the following:
"Although I never attempted another similar human-powered flight after that, my mentor loved the story, and I think it was an early key to our initial philosophical bond."(source)
There is a tiny bit of a caveat to my "never attempted another similar human-powered flight after that" found in the above quote. That caveat circulates around the use of the word "similar" in the sentence and has to do with what is known as the "Washoe Zephyr." The Washoe Zephyr, written about by Mark Twain in some of his works at one time and sometimes referred to as the devil wind, occurs on a regular basis on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, with an extremely strong portion on the east side of the paralleling Virginia Range, most notedly around Virginia City. Unlike the typical thermally driven slope-flows which blow upslope during the day and downslope at night, the Washoe Zephyr winds blow down the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the afternoon against the local pressure gradient. The Washoe Zephyr figured prominently in my reconsideration of a second flight attempt. For those who may be so interested please see:
THE WASHOE ZEPHYR
As for Batman and Da Vinci, if they ever showed up together again at any length I'm not aware of it, but for me in the story above that they did show up, for me it couldn't have been better timed if Destiny had done it herself. Remember, from the very beginning the creator of Batman Bob Kane had Batman seeped in Da Vinci:
(for larger size please click image)
(please click image)
THE WANDERLING'S FLYING MACHINE BASED LILIENTHAL'S TYPE IX FLYER
(please click image)
(to see the full length movie click the graphic)
EARLY FLYERS FROM ICARUS TO LILIENTHAL
THE FLYING MACHINE: CHINA 400 A.D.
DID LEONARDO DA VINCI FLY?
LILIENTHAL GLIDER TYPE IX
SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
TRY HERE FIRST
FAST FORWARD TO THE 41 MINUTE MARK FOR GLIDER SCENE
OPTION: RENT FROM AMAZON FOR THREE BUCKS
In running down information on Lilienthal in the 1948 era we are talking about here, my uncle and I were able to come up with a small number of photographs of his crafts, but none specifically suitable for use to design and build one of our own from. In seeking an answer to our dilemma we ran into a man that informed us he had a solution that he was sure would solve our problem.
The man was from England and in pursuit of satisfying his smoking habit he preferred British cigarettes. It just so happened the brand that he liked the most was made by a company called Lambert & Butler, a company that had for years, as a sales promotion published and distributed a rather fine series of collectable trading cards similar to America's baseball cards, although on any manner of subjects.
One day in a smoke shop that catered almost exclusively toward the sale of British cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco that my uncle frequented on occasion, the man noticed a model of the glider I was carrying. When he commented on it I told him my uncle and I were building a life size one that I would be able to fly. Holding the model glider and looking it over carefully he said that what we were trying to accomplish seemed a noble and commendable venture, then questioned how far along we were in our endeavors. Listening intently to my tale of woe on how we had gone from a rather primitive glider based on one I saw in Tarzan and the Huntress to investigating Leonardo Da Vinci to Lilienthal and still were unable to come up with a successful craft.
The man, after hearing my tale of woe and seemingly thinking about it a few minutes while rubbing his chin, he said he just might have the answer. Telling my uncle and me wait, that he would be right back, he took off running out of the shop. A half and hour went by. Then 45 minutes. My uncle said we had to go and just as we were leaving the man came running in carrying what looked like a photo album. Inside was page after page of what looked almost like baseball trading cards, only larger, and the theme wasn't ball players but airplanes. The cards were part of a collection he had saved for years that were at one time distributed by the aforementioned British cigarette maker Lambert & Butler. He flipped through the pages and came across a trading card that depicted the most beautiful glider I had ever seen. If I would have been older I would have ejaculated all over myself on the spot. It was perfect. The man gave the card to my uncle and told him he could use it if we wanted to make our plans from. Which is exactly what we did. My uncle was somehow able to search down the wingspan of the actual craft and from that we upscaled the rest of the measurements from the card to life size.
BLUEPRINT MEASUREMENTS FOR THE LILIENTHAL TYPE 9 FLYER