Starting from 1490s Leonardo turned his studies to gliding flight, aware of the impossibility of giving form to his theories on flight with beating wings, even though they were correct. He studied with attention the trajectories of the flights of birds, noting that depending on the force and direction of the wind, the birds would tend to modify their trajectories.
Leonardo conceived very simple, essential machines, prophetically anticipating our modern gliders. In this case, as well, though, the material available, meaning wood, was too heavy to allow a practical realization of his ideas. This model represents a glider with wings held taut by means of cords and braces. The outer part of the wings is divided from the inner by a pivot allowing them to move partially. Two cords connect the extremities of the wings with the pilot. In the glider drawn by Leonardo, the pilot’s position has been studied so that the pilot can balance himself using opportune movements of the lower part of the body.