Barnickel designed the sketches of a pterodynamic rotary aircraft as well as a revolving parachute based on the model of the natural flight of birds: the curved, elastic wings of birds execute a so-called “pterodynamic effect”, i.e. a circulating stream of air arises which induces a lift beneath the wing and a thrust or propulsion at the wingtip.
In 1914 he sent this design, together with the manuscript "Flugtafel oder Berechnung der Kilogrammziffern von 50 Vögeln" (“Flight table or the calculation of the kilogramme numbers of 50 birds”) to Gustav Lilienthal (1849-1933), the brother of the aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896), for evaluation. Gustav’s extensive answer culminated in the realisation that Barnickel would need "weit wirksamere Motore als wir [sie] bis jetzt zur Verfügung haben"(“much more effective motors than we presently have available”) for the “Hubschrauben” (“rotors”) which he wanted to use for the wings.
From the middle of the 19th century onwards, new “rotary models” (“helicopters”) were developed time and time again. The first fully operational helicopter was developed by Professor Henrich Focke (Bremen) and was able to take off on its maiden flight in 1936.
If you would like to learn more about Johannes Barnickel’s enthusiasm for aeronautics, you can browse through the Archivportal-D in the holdings Barnickel, Johannes (1870-1952) of the Archive of the Archdiocese of Bamberg.
More treasures from the Archive of the Archdiocese of Bamberg can be found in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.