Whilst undertaking memorial research, I came across something which I had heard about quite a while ago. It recounts the story of Brother Eilmer, a monk who undertook what is possibly the first recorded attempt at flight. The current Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, has a stained glass window memorial to him (see the first link, below).

The following links illustrate the event and give some indication as to what he was attempting. It is interesting to note that he mentions after his first and only flight (after the Abbot banned him), was that basically "it needed a tail". Thinking along the right lines, perhaps? Not bad for a humble monk!

http://www.eilmer.co.uk/eilmer-biog.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eilmer_of_Malmesbury (for a Wiki entry, there are some interesting references)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elmer_flying_monk.jpg

Chris