Abbas Ibn Firnas was a very creative engineer and inventor who successfully constructed the first successful flying machine. His flying machine was a controlled one and he also demonstrated its flight, many centuries before designs of Leonardo Da Vinci. He is also famous for developing a glass lens that could be used to correct some vision problems. He had done many inventions and is so famous that, a crater on the moon has been named after his name.
Abbas Ibn Firnas was born in Al-Andalusia (Now it is Ronda, Spain) in 810 and was a Muslim. His family belongs to the Berber tribe who are famous for conquering Spain in the leadership of Tariq Bin Ziyad. Spain of that time was under the control of Muslims and was a glorious nation due to the institution of science and technology.
Abbas got his education in the field of science, astrology, and medicines. Abbas was interested since his childhood in hacking the machinery and putting it back together to learn about its design and working. He was also interested in music and Arabic poetry and also learned them too. Abbas became interested in flying machine when he found that an engineer, Armen Firman, tried to fly on parachute but failed. It took 23 years before Abbas designed his first flying machine that could fly.
After designing and demonstrating his first flight, Abbas spent the rest of life in developing the design of the flying machine and principles of avionics. He also wrote many books on astronomy, avionics, physics, and engineering. His work also inspired a great engineer and philosopher, known as Leonardo Da Vinci.
Inventions of Abbas Ibn Firnas
Abbas Ibn Firnas developed and invented many things in his life due to his interest in science and technology. Some of his famous inventions are:
The Flying Machine
Abbas Ibn Firnas made his first flying machine in 875 CE in Cordoba, Spain. He constructed it on a frame of bamboo in two-winged suit. He covered the bamboo frame with lightweight silk cloth and feathers of eagles to mimic the birds. The wings of the flying machine were not static, but could be controlled during flight.
When the machine was ready to fly, Abbas Ibn Firnas gathered a large audience to demonstrate them the flight. When the audience gathered, he jumped-off from a large tower and achieved a successful flight for 10 minutes. However, the landing was not successful due to a flaw in his design. He didn’t designed any mechanism of landing with the machine smoothly. As a result, an accident happened to him during the landing which caused serious injuries. Later on, he mentioned in his book about a tail for the flying machine for landing successfully.
He experimented sand and quartz crystals to understand their properties. He also made very transparent glasses from them that became very famous as Andalusian glasses. He also made lenses from the transparent glass was become in correcting eyesight problems of many people.
Water Powered Clock
He designed a clock, known as Al-Maqata, for keeping the accurate time that was totally powered by the flow of water.
- Abbas Ibn Firnas learned music and Arabic poetry from a famous Iraqi musician of that time, Ziryab.
- After the first flight, Abbas proposed many designs of the flying machine but never flown them.
- Due to interest in astrology, Abbas designed a mechanical planetarium to study the motion of planets.