Diego Marin Aguilera (1757-1799) was born in Coru'a del Conde, Spain, which at the time of his birth was, as much of it still is today, a largely rolling hills rural farmland area located some 124 miles north of Spain's capital of Madrid.
Marin as he was known, was the firstborn son of a farmer and the oldest of several siblings. Being the oldest and a son besides, as so ordained by his father and typical of the times, Marin carried the highest level of responsibility toward the outcome of the farm's overall success and production output. So said, a large majority of his time was spent outdoors taking note of the weather, monitoring the seasons, tending to crops and shepherding animals. In the process he became extremely adept at reading the weather and seasons as well as monitoring the ebb and flow of positive and negative insect populations and the flights of local and migratory birds.
The more Marin observed birds in flight the more he became intrigued with the idea of he himself flying. So, even as early as still being in his young childhood years he began moving away from just dreaming about flying to actually figuring out a way to accomplish just such task.
Not having any formal access to the trials and errors or successes or failures --- or possibly even knowledge of --- his early flying predecessors such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Marin went about his approach similar to how Da Vinci did in his early days --- imitating the flight of birds by utilizing the flapping of wings. Da Vinci, after several attempts of mechanical flight without experiencing a high enough level of success desired, had moved away from flapping wings as a mode for flight, known as an Ornithopter, to more-or-less semi fixed wing glider type crafts.
The thing is, in the close to two hundred years that had elapsed since Da Vinci's attempts and Marin's a lot had changed. Where Da Vinci designed the skeletal structure of his first flying machines using wood, they proved to be too heavy. As he continued to pare down and reduce the size, diameter and weight of the wood used in the structure of his flying machines he began loosing the tensile strength required to maintain the ability of the cranking and pulling mechanism(s) to operate sufficiently in order to stay aloft. Hence he eventually abandoned the whole idea flapping wings. Without the ability to flap the wings, in order to fly his only option was to emulate how birds stayed aloft by gliding.
Although there was metal and iron available to Da Vinci, the whole field of metallurgy had advanced to such a point that what could be done in Marin's time was way beyond what could have been done in Da Vinci's time. Knowing that bones of birds were hollow, Marin constructed his craft using thin walled hollow square metal tubing --- which allowed for both strength and light weight. Also, being responsible for most of the "heavy lifting" keeping the farm running efficiently and without a lot of outside help, Marin invented, developed, and put into place any number of mechanical devices to lessen his burden and save time. One such concoction was keeping the fields watered by using a system of wind, pipes, cranks, wheeled buckets, sprockets, and chains, put together from his own design to ensure proper irrigation for of a variety of different levels of fields. Drawing from that background knowledge he began to adapt and put together a flying machine. Always keeping weight in mind, Marin created a system of hand and foot operated cranks hooked to sprockets connected by chains to sprockets of different sizes in order to maximize and increase the power output while reducing the need for an extra amount of strength beyond what he was able to deliver on his own. He also chose, for reasons unknown, although seemingly making sense because he was after all making a craft emulating the flight of birds, to cover the total wing surface with genuine honest to goodness real bird feathers. In addition, unlike the ornithopters Da Vinci designed where the pilot laid flat in a prone position, Marin designed his flying machine so he as the operator-pilot would sit upright in order to maximize his strength and ability using the push-pull of his legs and arms against the resistance inherent in the cranks. In doing so, he felt the end results would be a flying machine that by utilizing the replication of the flapping wings of a bird, he would be able duplicate the forward thrust and lift necessary to stay aloft and thus then be carried in the air over long distances. And that is exactly what happened.
On May 15, 1793, Marin, with the help of one of his sisters and his blacksmith, who had worked with him building the machine, all the while attesting to it's relative light weight, was able to get craft up to the highest reaches of the castle of Coru'a del Conde. With the castle tower walls having been designed and constructed in the shape of a square, together with the width and strength of the stone blocks along the top of the walls, although one of the walls was missing, Marin was able to face his machine outward toward almost any direction --- even across the space of the missing wall. Having studied the flight of birds for years, applying a nearly innate second nature, when the winds turned to what he considered in his favor, facing his flyer into the wind, he signaled his assistants to launch the machine.
After an initial slight drop before the flapping of the wings and the wind under them kicked in, along with the natural and mechanical forward momentum, according to his launch crew, he climbed to a height of at least 20 feet above his original launch elevation. With the flapping wings keeping the craft aloft for a longer distance than what would be afforded by a typical downward glide angle, albeit only done so with Marin becoming more fatigued more quickly than he had anticipated. His flight continued out over the city, easily crossing high above the Arandilla River winding it's way through the fields well beyond the edge of the town. Even though tiring he continued to maintain a fairly high flight advantage considering the distance covered when one of the welded metal joints broke, in turn letting major metal parts loose and tangling up chains, all needed in the full operation of the mechanism, locking the wings in an nonflyable, noncontrollable, and unflappable angle. With that, still at fairly substantial height, but unable to glide it out, the flying machine dropped like a rock.
His crew, trying to keep up with him as much as possible during the flight was soon upon him. Marin was only slightly scratched and bruised with, except for a few flaying and missing parts scattered along the flight path from the point of the undoing of the weld, the main structure of the flying machine was for the most part, undamaged. However, it has been reported the blacksmith received the wrath of the pilot for failing to weld the joint properly.
So too, it has been reported that rather than receiving adulation and respect for his accomplishments from the locals, they turned against him, accusing him of being a lunatic and branding him a heretic. The townspeople, like some angry torch baring crowd raging against Dr. Frankenstein and the man he put together or created, they took the flying machine and dismantled and destroyed the whole thing right down to the very last nut and bolt. Disgraced and depressed Marin never attempted another flight, dying six years later at the age of 44.
EARLY FLYERS FROM ICARUS TO LILIENTHAL
LEONARDO DA VINCI: 500 YEARS TO SOON
THE FLYING MACHINE: CHINA 400 A.D.
LILIENTHAL GLIDER TYPE IX (TYPE 9)
DID LEONARDO DA VINCI FLY?
TO READ ABOUT THE FLYING FRONTIERSMAN AND
HIS DA VINCI-LIKE FLYING MACHINE CLICK IMAGE.
THE WASHOE ZEPHYR
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.
"Any flying machine that derives its principal support in flight from the air reactions caused by flapping motions of the wings, this motion having been imparted to the wings from the source of power being carried."
As mentioned, Leonardo Da Vinci, after several attempts using a flapping wing ornithopter type design soon learned imitating the way birds glide rather than human powered up-and-down flapping wing motion was the way to go if any sustained flight for any extended period was expected. His next step would be not to imitate nature at all, but designing and building winged gliders exclusively by and for human use in mind.
However, two hundred years after Leonardo, basically out of nowhere, Diego Marin Aguilera had a successful flight using an ornithopter design, fully independently, via his own intuitiveness and observation of birds in flight.
HOW ORNITHOPTERS FLY