Otto Lilienthal Photographs circa 1894


Collection Item Summary:

This collection consists of three black and white photographs of Otto Lilienthal. The first is a 2.5 by 3.5 inch (matted to 8.5 by 10 inches) formal head and shoulders portrait of Lilienthal, wearing a suit and tie, and is signed by Lilienthal. The other two prints, both measure 10.5 by 7 inches and are backed with cardboard, show Lilienthal in flight in a glider near Berlin in 1894.

Collection Item Long Description:


  • Gliders (Aeronautics)
  • Aeronautics
  • Gliding and soaring

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions on access


Lilienthal, Otto

Physical description

.05 cubic feet (1 folder)

See more items in


  • 1894
  • circa 1894




The most significant pre-Wright brothers aeronautical experimenter was the German glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal. Between 1891 and 1896, he built and flew a series of highly successful full-size gliders. During this period, Lilienthal made close to 2,000 brief flights in 16 different designs based on aerodynamic research he conducted in the 1870s and 1880s. Most of the gliders were monoplanes with stabilizing tail surfaces mounted at the rear and control was achieved by shifting body weight fore-and-aft and from side-to-side. Beyond his technical contributions, Lilienthal sparked aeronautical advancement from a psychological point of view, as well by unquestionably demonstrating that gliding flight was possible. He was a great inspiration to the Wright brothers in particular. They adopted his approach of glider experimentation and used his aerodynamic data as a starting point in their own research.

Cite as

Otto Lilienthal Photographs, XXXX-1093, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Repository Loc.

National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division, MRC 322, Washington, DC, 20560


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