Mythology, folktales and even Biblical stories are full of warnings against excessive pride, in other words hubris. In literature, the figures of Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost illustrate the dark themes of vanity, ambition, power, insolence and disdain.
Of Leonardo da Vinci’s many areas of study, perhaps this Renaissance man’s favorite was the area of aviation. Da Vinci seemed truly excited by the possibility of people soaring through the skies like birds.One of da Vinci’s most famous inventions, the flying machine (also known as the "ornithopter") ideally displays his powers of observation and imagination, as well as his enthusiasm for the potential of flight. The design for this invention is clearly inspired by the flight of winged animals, which da Vinci hoped to replicate. In fact, in his notes, he mentions bats, kites and birds as sources of inspiration.
The Wright brothers – Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912) – were two American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful motor-operated airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft with the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, 4 mi (6 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers were also the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
Since 1899, Wilbur and Orville Wright had been scientifically experimenting with the concepts of flight. They labored in relative obscurity, while the experiments of Samuel Langley of the Smithsonian were followed in the press and underwritten by the War Department. Yet Langley, as others before him, had failed to achieve powered flight. They relied on brute power to keep their theoretically stable machines aloft, sending along a hapless passenger and hoping for the best. It was the Wrights' genius and vision to see that humans would have to fly their machines, that the problems of flight could not be solved from the ground.