Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The first powered flying machine was created in Greece, in 400 BC. It took the form of a steam powered mechanical pigeon which flew approximately 200 metres. Some observers claimed it was on a string or wire. Logically, it must have been suspended on a wire or something, but the thought that it might have actually flown stirs my imagination. That it was powered by steam is just icing on the steampunk cake.
In the Victorian era balloons were extremely popular. In 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier became the first human to fly in a balloon. His balloon was lifted by the heat generated from a wood fire and he travelled eight kilometres before landing. Dozens, if not hundreds of different models of heavier than air flying machines were designed and built, most of them were, of course, complete failures.
The idea that people would, one day soon, be using aircraft to travel around the world fuelled the imaginations of writers like Jules Verne, and the love of fabulous flying machines has become a cornerstone of steampunk.
Air travel is so commonplace these days, it's almost dull. It takes some work to dig down and remember what it was like to be a kid, dreaming of flying my own helicopter or running around, arms extended Rrrraaawwwrrrr! a P-38 diving through the clouds. That's what fires me up.