Flight Time

5 Oct

(Found at http://www.legacyofchina.cn)

This is a Bamboo Dragonfly, a Chinese toy from somewhere around 400BC. You wind the rope as the tension builds, then let go and watch it fly.

From the wikipedia article on Bamboo-copters.

This Chinese helicopter toy was introduced into Europe and “made its earliest appearances in Renaissance European paintings and in the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.” The toy helicopter appears in a ca. 1460 French picture of the Madonna and Child at the Musée de l’Ancien Évêché in Le Mans, and in a 16th-century stained glass panel at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The article also includes a picture of a Taketombo, a Japanese variant on the toy.Taketombo from WikipediaDespite the fact that the Chinese never took these basic principles of flight any further than the toy stage, I find it interesting that they created a device so early in the chronology of human civilization. In truth, it answered, or at least asked, many of the same questions that would eventually pester the French in their quest to take to the skies.

I find it even more interesting that, to this very day, children are playing with toys that operate under the exact same principles, even if they are no longer made of bamboo.
To about 20 feet up and below!

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2 Responses to “Flight Time”

  1. bmj2k October 5, 2010 at 16:18 #

    That’s the same principal as the old balsa wood and rubber band airplanes, isn’t it? The only difference with the new toys today is the price.

    • JRD Skinner October 6, 2010 at 09:57 #

      Oooh, I miss those airplanes – good point, and very true.

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