A filmmaker used 120-year-old photographs to create amazing footage of the world's first flying man

Picture: Getty Images

This is one of those projects that didn’t seem to get anywhere near as much attention as it probably should have.

Dutch filmmaker Johannes Hogebrink has been an avid aviationist since he was a child and was hang gliding by the time he was 18. Since film school, he has also had a quirky vision to release a “reverse mockumentary” about a penniless artist who is determined to teach his talking dog how to fly, called “De Vliegende Hond”.

As part of the preparation for making the film, Hogebrink drew inspiration from the man who inspired the Wright brothers, German pioneer Otto Lilienthal.

Lilienthal’s career as an experimental aviationist is best described as “short”. He believed so strongly in the notion that man might one day fly that he built a 15 metre artificial hill near near his home called “Fly Hill” from which to test his hang gliders.

And test them personally he did, from 1891 to 1896, until one stalled and sent him plummeting 15 metres to the ground, breaking his neck.

Lilienthal wasn’t the first to experiment with manned flight, but in his short career, his data and designs were known around the world. Wilbur Wright described him as “easily the most important” aviationist of the 19th century.

Each launch of a new flying machine drew a large crowd of spectators and media. So it’s not hard to find a host of images of Lilienthal launching himself off Fly Hill:

Picture: Getty Images

And when Hogebrink was studying those images, he realised there were so many, from so many different angles, that a short film might be pieced together.

A short film that surely deserves the title of “first footage of a flying man”. Here’s a taste:

Hogebrink was given permission by the Otto Lilienthal Museum in Germany to peruse their images:

Picture: Johannes Hogebrink/YouTube

He eventually cobbled together 145 shots taken and.. voila!

Hogebrink released his video on Vimeo and YouTube last year, but it’s barely reached 120,000 people all up. We caught it on MessyNessyChic, and it’s too good not to share.

Hogebrink has added some subtle sound effects to his original, and it’s as fascinating as it is spooky. Here’s the full story and extra footage:

If you like that, Hogebrink has designed a stylish poster featuring Lilienthal to help raise funds for his movie.

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