Albrecht Berblinger was an early aviation pioneer who is best known for designing a hang glider, nearly four decades before British inventor George Cayley sent his butler flying 900 feet across a Brompton dale. However, unlike George Cayley and dozens of aviation enthusiasts before and after him, Berblinger wasn’t successful in his demonstration. Instead, he splashed into the Danube river and the failure practically destroyed his career.
Albrecht Berblinger was born in 1770 in Ulm, Germany, to a poor family. His father worked in the armory of the Free Imperial City of Ulm, and through him, young Berblinger came into contact with all kinds of mechanical equipment. When he was 13, Berblinger’s father died and he was sent to an orphanage. There, he was forced to start an apprenticeship as a tailor. Berblinger excelled in his craft, becoming a master tailor at the age of 21. But his passion was mechanics.
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An old postcard depicting Albrecht Berblinger’s failed attempt to fly. Photo: Wikimedia