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da Vinci and the RAF centenary

Leonardo di ser Piero “da Vinci” (below left) was nearly six months older than Richard III, having been born in the Republic of Florence on 15 April 1452. Over his lifetime, which ended in 1519, he is best known for his paintings, such as The Last Supper or la Gioconda. However, he also left us a number of remarkable engineering and other sketches, depicting human and animal biology, geology and devices, including flying machines. The anatomical diagrams would have contributed towards the quality of his portraits in the same way that Stubbs studied the physiology of horses.

On the right is his 1488 design for a flying machine. In this, the centenary of the Armistice and of the RAF, it is interesting to compare it with aircraft from the First World War and to note that Leonardo also theoretically described a parachute, a concept with which later pilots would be very familiar.

An example (left) is the (French) Nieuport Fighter. 

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We can exclusively reveal …

HelicopterStarkeyspitfire

… that David Starkey has solved the mystery of Stony Stratford. As we know, three to five hundred of the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham’s men managed to persuade Edward V to accompany them to London and not Earl Rivers’ two thousand retainers who had taken him so far. Most of Gloucester’s adherents were in Yorkshire which is not, despite what a certain novelist may think, an inner suburb of east London.

In a Channel Four documentary to be broadcast next month, Dr. Starkey will reveal that Gloucester’s men were successful because they had the use of a squadron of Spitfires and the SAS (Special Archery Service). This was, as he points out, the era in which da Vinci designed a helicopter.

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