The flying knowledge of aerial pioneers like German inventor Otto Lilienthal led directly to the Wright brothers' first flights. Starting in 1891, Lilienthal and his brother built monoplane and biplane gliders with arched, bat-like wings. Lilienthal's first flights, launched from a springboard in his backyard, took him a few meters into the air. After hundreds of test flights, he was able to leap and soar across the entire plot.
Lilienthal gained experience as a glider pilot on nearby hills, performing flights with remarkable control of his craft. In 1894, he even built an artificial hill so that he could launch his gliders with any wind direction. Otto Lilienthal, the most experienced flyer in the world at the time, was soon searching for higher launch points and stronger winds. Leaps from the Rhinower Hills near Berlin achieved spectacular glides of up to 1,150 feet (345 m).