Today it’s a hundred years since the Wright brothers did their first successful sustained flight. They were however cheating with an engine and propeller. Description of the Wright brothers first flight. Any Brazilian will tell you that it was in fact Alberto Santos-Dumont who was the first to achieve sustained heavier than air flight.
The English will of course point to Sir George Cayley’s glider flight. As a good designer he used his coachman as a test pilot, pushing him off the hill in this contraption.
Leonardo da Vinci designed a perfectly good hangglider hundreds of years before any of these dudes, but there’s no evidence that he built and flew it. A team of constructors did make a replica from Leonardo’s drawings, and had Judy Leden ridge soar it to make a documentary for the Discovery channel. The glider flew pretty well!