Fol. 6v

Codex on the Flight of Birds of Leonardo Leonardo moves towards the flying machine.
The drawing describes the first mechanical structure deriving from the observation of the wings of birds. It is to be fabricated in a very resistant leather with a technique that reinforces the seams. Leonardo begins to provide instructions for the future pilot, including recommendations for the altitude to be maintained. He writes that it is important to fly high in order to stay above the clouds and thus avoid rain, which would damage the flying machine. Leonardo senses that the higher it stays, the more time the pilot will have to complete the manoeuvres for adjustment and recovery that his life depends on. It is best to stay far away from mountains and the air currents that swirl around them. Finally, the higher the pilot flies, the more territory he can explore.

«sempre il volo deve essere al di sopra delle nuvole perché l'ala non si bagni e per scoprire più territorio e per sfuggire al pericolo dei rivolgimenti del vento allo sbocco delle vallate montuose. Oltre a ciò, se l'uccello si rovesciasse, avresti tempo a rivoltarlo con gli ordini già dati, prima che si schianti a terra»
(The flight must always be above the clouds so that the wings do not get wet, and to discover more territory, and to avoid the danger of the swirling of winds at the mouths of mountainous valleys. In addition, if the bird were to flip over, you would have time to turn it back according to the instructions given earlier, before it is dashed to the ground.)

NOTE. For each page of Leonardo’s Codex we provide a brief summary, with the quotation of one that page’s most significant passages edited in modern Italian, with an English translation.

translation by Kim Williams