Fotografie, Ottomar Anschütz, 16.8.1894

The practice

From jump to flight

Since his first successful flight in 1891, Otto Lilienthal is gripped by flying, almost like an addiction. Until his fatal crash in 1896, he uses every summer for his flight experiments. In the Berlin countryside, he searches for the best heights to jump from, eventually building a "flying mountain" by himself and constructing flying machines, which he continues to modify and refine.

"Derwitzer Apparat", Fotografie, Carl Kassner, 1891
The setting of Otto Lilienthal's first flight is the Windmühlenberg near Derwitz, today a district of the city of Werder in the Mark Brandenburg region, west of Potsdam. Lilienthal tests his new flying machine made of willow here almost every Sunday in the summer of 1891. It weighs 18 kilograms and consists of two wings connected in the middle. Under the eyes of the local villagers, his family and friends from Berlin, Lilienthal makes numerous painful attempts until he finally manages to glide more than 25 meters.Otto Lilienthal and his “Derwitzer Apparatus", Photograph, Carl Kassner, 1891

The pictures at the Maihöhe are taken by the photographer Ottomar Anschütz, a pioneer of snapshot photography. These images go around the world and introduce the readers of popular magazines to the sensation of man-made flight.

Lilienthal’s jump from his flight station on top of Maihöhe in Steglitz, 1893, photograph, Ottomar Anschütz

In September 1893 Lilienthal applies for a patent. In the patent specification, he describes a flying machine that is to "serve for the exercise of free flight for humans and is to allow both gliding flight without moving wings and flapping flight with moving wings". His patent also gives him the hope of earning money from the sale of his aircrafts. His goal is to establish flying as a sport and thus popularize it: "Hundreds of young, strong people would own such affordable gliders, and would try to outperform each other in the art of gliding". He promotes this goal also through public flight experiments in front of audiences and the press. The pictures of renowned photographers such as Ottomar Anschütz and Alex Krajewsky go around the world.

Otto Lilienthal achieves his longest flight distances in the Rhinow Mountains in Havelland. Photographer Alex Krajewesky captures spectacular shots of the jumps from the 60-meter-high Hauptmannsberg. Lilienthal glides 250 meters here.

Gliding in the Rhinower Berge, Photograph, Alex Krajewski, 1893