Heavier-than-Air Flight Heavier-than-air vehicles generally achieve flight with aerodynamic lift created by airflow over a surface (usually a wing). There were three basic types of early heavier-than-air vehicles -- kites, gliders and airplanes. Kites are unpowered, tethered craft. Gliders fly freely. Both kites and gliders are limited because they rely on the airflow provided by wind to remain aloft. Airplanes are powered air vehicles that use their own propulsion to create airflow over the wings. Click on the following links to learn more about heavier-than-air flight. Inventor of the Science of Flight: Sir George Cayley Gliding Pioneer: Otto Lilienthal Progress in Flying Machines: Octave Chanute On the Doorstep: The Aerodrome: Samuel Pierpont Langley Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.