Abbas Ibn Firnas was the First man to tried to fly scientific way



Abbas Ibn Firnas, or 'Abbas Qasim Ibn Firnas (810 – 887 A.D.) (Arabic: العباس بن فرناس) was a Berber[1] humanitarian, technologist, and chemist who lived in the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in Al-Andalus.

In 822, a new Caliph named 'Abd al-Rahman II took the throne, and he began to gather together talented individuals. He began with an Iraqi musician called Ziryab who fostered the development of the sciences. Another one was the young astronomer and poet Abbas Ibn Firnas.

In 852, under a new Caliph, a daredevil named Armen Firman decided to fly off a tower in Córdoba using a huge winglike cloak to break his fall. He survived with minor injuries, and the young Ibn Firnas was there to see it. This was considered to be the first parachute.

Like Ziryab, Ibn Firnas worked at a huge variety of enterprises. He was studied in chemistry, physics, and astronomy. He set up astronomical tables, wrote poetry, and designed a water clock called Al-Maqata. He also devised means of manufacturing glass from sand, and he developed a chain of rings that could be used to display the motions of the planets and stars. He also developed a process for cutting rock crystal. Up to then, only the Egyptians knew how to facet crystal. Thereafter Spain no longer needed to export quartz to Egypt, but could finish it at home.

In 875 at an age of 65 years, Ibn Firnas built his own glider, and launched himself from a mountain. The flight was largely successful, and was widely observed by a crowd that he had invited. However, the landing was bad. He injured his back, and left critics saying he hadn't taken proper account of the way birds pull up into a stall, and land on their tails. He'd provided neither a tail, nor means for such a maneuver. He died twelve years later.

"Ibn Firnas was the first man in history to make a scientific attempt at flying."
—Philip Hitti, History of the Arabs.

As westerners teach their children about the Wright Brothers, the Islamic countries tell theirs about Ibn Firnas, a thousand years before the Wrights—though his flight was not powered. The Libyans produced a postage stamp honoring him. The Iraqis built a statue in his memory on the way to Baghdad International Airport, and the Ibn Firnas Airport to the north of Baghdad is named for him.

Ibn Firnas crater on the Moon is also named in his honor.


Abu Juwairiya

Junior Member
The following is an excerpt about Ibn Firnas from 'The Golden Age and Decline of Islamic Civilisation' by S. E Djazari (P 176, 2006)-

"Abbas Ibn Firnas (d. 887) of Cordova had such boundless imagination and inventive faculty, he could decipher even the most incomprehensible hieroglyphics. On one occasion, as Levi Provencal narrates:

'When a merchant returned to Spain with Khalil's treatise on the Arab metrical system, nobody could make anything of these rules of prosody and scansion. Abbas had the manuscript brought to him, and betook himself with it to a corner of the palace, where he examined it and, quickly grasping its meaning, proceeded to explain it to a dumbfounded audience.'

Ibn Firnas was also a poet under three successive rulers, a mathematician, an astronomer and physicist. He built his patrons a mechanical clock and an armillary space (a combination of metal rings representing the sky and the movements of astral bodies).

He is also credited of having imported the Arabic numeral system after a trip to Iraq. Ibn Firnas also invented spectacles, complex chronometres, and a flying machine.

He was accustomed with the scientific properties of glass, and contributed to early experiments with lenses and the idea of magnifying script by their use.

He also lent his skills to the glass making furnaces of Cordova, and made a representation of the sky in glass, which he was able at will to make clear or cloudy, with lightening and the noise of thunder at the press of a finger.

He also made some of the earliest attemps at flying by building artificial wings."

Personal Comment: Its interesting to see ma'shallah a ninth century Muslim replete with the skills, artistic imagination, articulation, abilities and professional authority of advanced scientic and technical fields of engineering and design when ideas and thought processes of the same areas were in, to an extent, their embryonic stages.