Da Vinci’s Dream Come True

September 30, 2010 by  
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Leonardo Da Vinci was born in 1452, and became one of the most well known inventors, sculptors, painters, musicians, architects, engineer and mathematicians of the time. His thoughts and ideas that are protected and conserved by museums seemed only possible in his mind, although some were the original blueprints for magnificent modern inventions. One of his drawings depicts a craft that could fly through the air with flapping wings on either side. If Da Vinci were alive today, he would proudly look upon the very first functional human-powered ornithopter with amazement and enthusiasm.

Da Vinci first thought of the ornithopter in the year 1485, and for centuries after, scientists and engineers worked towards achieving flight through fixed wing aircrafts and balloons. Even though many tried to create a craft that was human powered, the technology to create lift was not available.

Todd Reichert, from the University of Toronto, led the development of the first ornithoper, which has been named Snowbird. The Snowbird was put to the test on 2 August 2010, and proved that it was able to fly by maintaining both air speed and altitude for just over twenty-nine seconds. Reichert explained his enthusiasm in regard to project by saying: “Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands have attempted to achieve it. This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts.”

Engineering the human-powered ornithopter was a great challenge for Reichter and his team, as the lightweight aircraft had to combine perfectly with its wingspan, which is thirty-five meters. To create a lightweight craft, Reichter used carbon fiber tubes, basswood, balsa wood and foam. To power the Snowbird, Reichter explained that he made use of his legs, “which have the strongest muscles in your body. I just pushed both legs down together simultaneously, as if in a gym doing a leg press, and every time I pushed, a wire connected to the wings pulled them down.” The snowbird has proven that all dreams and ideas are obtainable, although some just take five hundred and twenty-five years to reach completion.

Italy Airports

February 9, 2009 by  
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Italy is a beautiful and romantic country with exquisite food and scenery to be enjoyed by you and your partner. You will be kept busy during your stay in this historically rich country. Italy is famous worldwide for its opera houses and is very much a part of their culture. There are also many different monuments and museums to visit if you want to soak up a bit of the history and traditions of Italy. Where ever you visit there are many hotels and cheap lodgings available and of course the cuisine is something we have all experienced in one way or another, but the authentic Italian cuisine cannot be replaced by our home made versions. Depending on the time of year you visit it would be good to research what events and festivals are on the go.

Something else you will be keen to look into is the airports in Italy that you will be using and will no doubt be a popular form of transport during your stay. The Bologna Airport provides both domestic and international flights and is only 6 kms northeast of Bologna. The Amerigo Vespucci Airport is quite a small airport near the city of Florence with only one runway. If you are visiting the capital you will probably use Rome Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport, Italy’s biggest airport, 30kms from Rome.

In Milan there are three airports to choose from, the one being the Malpensa International Airport, which is near Milan in the Varese province. In the Capodichino district you will find the Naples International Airport, which serves Naples and the surrounding areas. Trieste Airport or Ronchi dei Legionari Airport is found near Trieste, the largest city and capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. This little airport won’t provide many amenities but the queues are short. The Palermo Airport is 35km from Palermo city providing many facilities to the passenger.

Airports in Italy:

Leonardo da Vinci International Airport

February 9, 2009 by  
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Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, also commonly known as Fiumicino International Airport, is one of the largest public airports found in Italy with more than 30 million passengers having flown from there in 2006 alone. The airport was named after the famous Leonardo da Vinci and can be found in Fiumicino from where it serves the whole of Rome.

From the historic city center of Rome to Leonardo da Vinci airport is about 34 kilometers or 21 miles by car. It is also accessible by train, which is available at the airport terminal, as well as by cab but that can be quite expensive. The Leonardo Express trains run twice an hour for twenty-four hours to the Termini Station in Rome. The regional trains leave the station every fifteen minutes but will stop at all the train stations between the city center and the airport, making the journey so much longer.

There are four runways used at the Leonardo da Vinci airport all of which are asphalt and are between 3,309 and 3,900 meters long. Aeroporti di Roma provided all the ground handling services for the airport up until 1999 when it formed the Aeroporti di Roma Handling, which was later sold to Flightcare.

Terminal areas in the airport were upgraded between 1991 and 2008. This included the construction of Terminal 5, particularly for the American carrier flights check-in and it deals with some 950 000 passengers per annum. The Leonardo da Vinci International Airport is a major hub for Alitalia, Air Alps and Blu-Express.


February 9, 2009 by  
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Man has always been interested in the concept of flying, with many an adventurer attempting to become airborne. Around the year 400 BC, the Chinese discovered the kite, a object that could fly in the air, and they built many colorful kites for recreation, fun and decoration. More refined kites were built to test weather conditions. Kites have been a very important factor in the invention of flight, as they were the forerunners of hot air balloons and gliders.

For many centuries after the discovery of flying kites, humans have tried to fly just like birds. They built wings made out of feathers and light weight wood and attached them to their arms, but the results were disastrous. The muscles of the human arm is not like a birds and can not move with such strength.

In the 1480s Leonardo da Vinci made the first real studies of flight. He designed the Ornithopter and had over 100 drawings illustrating his theories of flight. The Ornithopter was never built in his lifetime, but it played an important role in today’s modern helicopter.

When man realized that hot air goes up and cold air comes down, new hope was born. Two brothers, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier invented the first hot air balloon. They used the smoke from a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag. The silk bag was attached to a basket and the hot air then rose and allowed the balloon to be lighter than air. The first passengers to try out the balloon were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon ascended to a height of approximately 6,000 feet and travel about a mile. The first human passengers to test this new invention were Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent.

Around the 1800s George Cayley worked very hard studying ways that man could fly. He then designed many different versions of gliders that used the movements of the body to control. He improved his design over a period of about 50 years, changing the wings so that the air would flow over it correctly and designing a tail to help with stability. He then recognized that a fixed wing aircraft with a power system for propulsion and a tail for stability and control of the airplane would be the best way to allow man to fly.

Otto Lilienthal, a German engineer that studied aerodynamics, was the first person to design a glider that could allow a person to fly over significant distances. He wrote a book on aerodynamics, based on his studies and on the way that birds fly. The Wright Brothers used his text as a basis for their designs.

Samuel Langley, an astronomer, built a model of a plane that included a steam-powered engine, which he called an aerodrome. His model flew three-quarters of a mile before running out of fuel. He received $50,000 grant to build a full sized aerodrome, but unfortunately it was too big and crashed.

Wilbur and Orville Wright studied all the books that had been published on the subject and began to test all the early theories of flight. Eventually they built an airplane “The Flyer” with a 12 horsepower engine which lifted the aircraft from level ground, going on to invent the first successful airplane that travelled one hundred and twenty feet in twelve seconds. Future developments of aircraft were all based in some manner on the two Wright Brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk.

In 1947 Chuck Yeager became the very first pilot to exceed the speed of sound. In 1976 the Concorde Airplane took to the airways and crossed the Atlantic in three hours.