The Inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci
By: Sofia Cavicchia
Have you ever dreamed of going skydiving one day? This exhilarating sport is enjoyed by many all around the world. However, did you know that one of the most important parts of skydiving is the parachute? The parachute helps catch your fall and lets you glide to the ground safely. Without the invention of the parachute, a wide range of sports and activities would not be possible. The mind behind this invention is Leonardo Da Vinci.
Da Vinci, born in the year 1452, is best known today for painting the “Mona Lisa,” a painting still famous today. However, Da Vinci was much more than just an artist. He was a significant Italian scientist, architect, and inventor who lived during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was between 1300 and 1700 when European countries were transitioning into a more modern world. In Italy, this meant that culture, art, architecture, and science went through significant changes. During this time, Da Vinci played a vital role in the arts and sciences. He was known as the “Renaissance Man” because of how essential his contributions were.
One of the reasons Leonardo Da Vinci was so important was his incredible inventions that have to do with flight. Da Vinci took a unique approach to flight that depended a lot on math. While Da Vinci did not build most of his inventions, he did sketch them out in his notebooks. Some of his most famous sketches led to essential inventions that we will talk about today. These inventions were the parachute, the helicopter, and the plane.
First, let’s talk about the parachute! In the 1400s, Da Vinci sketched out an idea for a parachute. However, it was not the parachute we think of today. Instead, it was a piece of cloth in the shape of a pyramid. So, while Da Vinci did not create an actual parachute, his sketch influenced the parachute that we think of today, which was eventually crafted in 1783.
Additionally, Da Vinci’s sketches influenced what we know as the helicopter. He began to sketch a device called the “Archimedes Screw” in 1481. This device, which almost looked like the ends of a screw, was originally designed for lifting water. In this specific case, Da Vinci’s sketch began to craft an idea for what we know as a helicopter. The “Archimedes Screw” had the same principles as a helicopter propeller, pushing air to fly. While the first practical helicopter did not take flight until 1939, Da Vinci’s sketch led to a revolutionary milestone in aircraft.
While Leonardo Da Vinci was interested in mathematics, he also studied nature. A large part of his studies focused on observing birds. In the 1500s, Da Vinci observed how birds flapped their wings to fly. If birds flew in that way, Leonardo Da Vinci believed that humans could fly that way as well. Therefore, he sketched a series of inventions called the “Ornithopter”. With this machine, humans would hypothetically fly by flapping their arms, almost like birds. However, biologically, humans can not fly with the power of our arms, as we are not strong enough. Yet, a similar aircraft that Da Vinci imagined was flown in 1804, when Sir George Cayley invented a glider, an aircraft where humans can soar through the sky.
Ultimately, Da Vinci was impactful across many fields. Da Vinci used math, nature, and art to think about inventions for humankind creatively. However, his ideas related to flight and aircrafts led to multiple innovations that we know of today. Da Vinci was ahead of his time when it came to thinking about flying. If Leonardo Da Vinci were still alive today, he would be more than amazed by how far humans have soared through history!