May 23 1848 – August 10 1896
“Sacrifices must be made”, were the final words Otto Lilienthal murmured to his brother, Gustav, shortly before taking his last breath. A day earlier, “The Flying Man”, as his fellow Germans called him, had lost control of his glider, plunging some fifty feet to the ground in a sudden and unrecoverable nose dive.
With a fracture to his third cervical vertebra, fading in and out of consciousness, not even one of Berlin’s best surgeons could save him.
Working with Gustav, Otto made more than 2000 flights in a variety of gliders the brothers created over a five-year period. Many credit him with being a major influence in the development of today’s hang glider, among other accomplishments in the field of aviation.
Both courageous and selfless, Lilienthal had made the ultimate sacrifice in ambitious pursuit of mankind conquering the skies. He was 48.