LILIENTHAL, OTTO (1848–1896), German inventor and aeronaut. Born in Anklam, Pomerania, Lilienthal and his brother, Gustav, studied the flight of birds and while still at school succeeded in constructing a glider. During the next few years the brothers built many gliders and executed a large number of flights. Lilienthal demonstrated the superiority of arched wings over flat-surfaced types, and brought gliding flight into a regular practice. He made over 2,000 flights, but finally while in flight his machine was upset by a sudden gust of wind, and he was killed near Rhinow. He wrote Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst (19393), and Die Flugapparate (1894). Lilienthal also made technical improvements in steam boilers, and designed children's building blocks. The Lilienthal brothers' Jewish origin has been disputed.
G. Halle, Otto Lilienthal (1936), incl. bibl., 186–90; A. and G. Lilienthal, Die Lilienthals (1930); S. Kaznelson, Juden im deutschen Kulturbereich (12963), 1053.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.