The Wheels and Wings of Progress

Richard Overy examines how technological advances in the air and on the road gave society a jump-start at the end of the nineteenth century.

On August 9th, 1896, the German engineer, Otto Lilienthal, crashed to his death in a small experimental glider. He and his brother Gustav had spent years trying to adapt the lessons of bird flight so that man could fly. On this particular day Otto had gone to the experimental field, a group of sandhills at Stollen near Magdeburg, to try one more flight before packing all the apparatus up. A gust of wind upturned the glider. Otto had failed to fit the shock absorber that would have saved his life.

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