The story of Batman and Da Vinci titled "The Batman That 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 of 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 WANDERLING'S FIRST FLIGHT USED A LILIENTHAL DESIGN, ENDING WITH THE SAME RESULTS AS DA VINCI'S
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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.
There was however, one major exception when not just comic books were involved, but the coming together of comic books AND Saturday afternoon matinee movies of the day. After what I saw in the movie and what I read in a comic book, the two merged together to such an extent that using a Da Vinci-like flying machine I built myself with my uncle's help, but without his knowledge or approval, jumped off a well over two-story high building and flew diagonally across a busy neighborhood intersection 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.
Initially my flight, like Lilienthal's, played out fairly well, picking up wind under the wings and maintaining the same two-story height advantage for some distance. Halfway across busy Arlington Street though, the craft began slowing and losing forward momentum. It began dropping altitude rapidly, eventually crashing into the porch and partway through the front windows of the house across the way. Other than a few bruises and a wrecked machine, nothing was broken, although as it turned out, my dad wasn't nearly as proud of me as intended.
During our research trying to find a flying machine that would meet my or our needs, my uncle and I came across a good sized trading card that depicted a line drawing of a Lilienthal glider that seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. Even though the two of us researched everything we could regarding the flying craft depicted on the trading card by comparing what few photographs and drawings we could find none really matched. Most of our interest circulated around the physical specifics though, that is the dimensions of the wingspan like length and width for instance. So, taking the graphic on the trading card as being accurate, we duplicated the craft's length, width, etc. in real life. What we didn't know was that it was a Type 9 or No. 9 and it's history, of which for the most part there wasn't any, and for good reason. Glider No. 9 was the same model that Lilienthal had his most serious crash, that is, up until the one that resulted in his death. In flight, at 60 feet above the ground, the No 9 stalled, followed by a steep nose-dive burying the front end of the craft in the ground with the only thing saving him being a sort of bumper called a "rebound bow" he began using in his designs.
Although I didn't know it at the time, and have only since found out through recent research, as you can see by what I have written above almost the exact same results happened to me when I attempted to fly the craft my Uncle and I built. If it was caused by something inherent in the design or simply a coincidence between Lilienthal's flying ability and mine is something I will never know. He never flew the Type 9 again and, even though I wish I had flown mine again --- like Leonardo Da Vinci always moving on to other things --- neither did I.
The thing is, in that I carried a copy of the Batman comic with me throughout the whole summer, reading it over and over every chance I got, you would think, in that Batman's suggestions made the Da Vinci flying machine fly successfully, that I would have taken at least a little clue from it. C'est la vie.
THE BATMAN AND LEONARDO DA VINCI
DID LEONARDO DA VINCI FLY?
SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?
AND IF SO, HOW?
LILIENTHAL GLIDER TYPE IX (TYPE 9)
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BLUEPRINT MEASUREMENTS FOR THE LILIENTHAL TYPE 9 FLYER
THE FLYING FRONTIERSMAN, TOMAHAWK COMICS, MARCH-APRIL 1951, ISSUE #4
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DA VINCI 500 YEARS TOO SOON
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