Gliding Pioneer: Otto Lilienthal Otto Lilienthal remains the most famous of the glider experimenters. He built his first glider in 1891, and within the next five years, this brilliant German made more than 2,000 glides. His experiments were publicized throughout the world, providing inspiration to others, including the Wright brothers. Sadly, in 1896, a fatal gliding accident cut his work short. Click here to return to the Heavier-than-Air Flight Overview.