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Abbas Ibn Firnas built the first hang glider

Abbas Ibn Firnas built the first hang glider

Abbas Ibn Firnas built the first hang glider

ABBAS IBN FIRNAS (810 – 887 A.D.) was a Muslim Berber polymath an inventor, engineer, aviator, physician, Arabic poet, and Andalusian musician. He was born in Izn-Rand Onda, Al-Andalus (today's Ronda, Spain), and lived in the Emirate of Córdoba. He is known for an early attempt at aviation. Shortly afterwards, Abbas Ibn Firnas built the first hang glider, which may have also been the first manned glider. Knowledge of Firman and Firnas' flying machines spread to other parts of Europe from Arabic references. According to Philip Hitti in History of the Arabs: "Ibn Firnas was the first man in history to make a scientific attempt at flying." Ibn Firnas' glider flight is considered by John Harding to be the first attempt at heavier-than-air flight in aviation history. It may have inspired another attempt by Eilmer of Malmesbury between 1000 and 1010 in England, although there is no evidence and the later event in Anglo-Saxon England took place without foreign stimulus. He has been commemorated on stamps from Libya, by a statue near the Baghdad International Airport, and by a namesake airport north of Baghdad. The crater Ibn Firnas on the Moon is named in his honor. Hang gliding is an air sport in which a pilot flies a light and unmotorized foot-launchable aircraft called a hang glider (also known as Delta plane). Most modern hang gliders are made of an aluminum alloy or composite-framed fabric wing. The pilot is ensconced in a harness suspended from the airframe, and exercises control by shifting body weight in opposition to a control frame, but other devices, including modern aircraft flight control systems, may be used. In the sport's early days, pilots were restricted to gliding down small hills on low-performance hang gliders. However, modern technology gives pilots the ability to soar for hours, gain thousands of feet of altitude in thermal updrafts, perform aerobatics, and glide cross-country for hundreds of miles. With each generation of materials and with the improvements in aerodynamics, the performance of hang gliders has increased. One measure of performance is the glide ratio. For example, a ratio of 12:1 means that in smooth air a glider can travel forward 12 meters while only losing 1 meter of altitude. Since its inception, hang gliding has traditionally been considered an unsafe sport. All modern gliders have built-in dive recovery mechanisms. Nevertheless, the inherent danger of gliding at the mercy of thermal and wind currents, has resulted in numerous fatal accidents and many serious injuries over the years, even to experienced pilots, and the resultant adverse publicity has affected the popularity of hang gliding