By Becky Ferreira Jan 31, 2013
"Design for a Flying Machine" by Leonardo da Vinci (1488)
The artist's intent: Blueprints for a helicopter-like flying machine.
The outcome: The basic template for the sleeker spaceships used in modern science fiction, such as the X-Wings of Star Wars or the Vipers of Battlestar Galactica. What makes da Vinci's fascination with aviation so unique is his insight that imitating bird flight wasn't the only way to go. Most inventors hoped to literally create wings: though da Vinci toyed with this too, he also foresaw that other means of propulsion had to be explored.