Friday: Steampunk World: Flight and “Getting There.”

With the summer unpleasantly under way and peoples’ thoughts turning to travel, I thought it only appropriate we should talk about flight.

We all know that DaVinci’s flying machine is notorious for being one of the first. DaVinci also designed a propeller-powered ornithopter, which could arguably be considered the earliest man made helicopter. How Science Works has a great article on bungled flight attempts resulting in disaster. The Airship and Futurism is another must-read. (I especially like the “iron airship”).

I’m fascinated by the flying machine in Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, as impractical as it is. Miyazaki himself is somewhat obsessed with flying machines–almost every movie of his has some sort of plane-dirigible hybrid.

As for the dirigible itself, the concept was made popular–if not famous–by the use in WWI by both the Germans and the US. Apparently the US manufactured over 1000 non-rigid observation balloons between 1918 and 1919. There’s a great article here about the history up until 1935.

Aside from the Hindenburg, which as many agree stopped the public demand for airships, many people are generally uneducated about the wave of the future. If you’re curious about the Hindenburg, check out this mini documentary by London Homer-Wambeam, who was a guest speaker at AnomalyCon 2011 and 2012. It’s a good watch and he’s a young director prodigy.

Now we get to the present–modern air ships, the houseboats of the sky, the cruise ships through the clouds. Of course we’ve all seen the Goodyear blimp (apparently Goodyear owned the rights to zeppelin building in the 1920s), but what about more practical uses? This site has some great information about the Zeppelin NT.But check this out:

That’s quite the ride! Apparently the military has been using airships to refuel navy vehicles, so now the British want to try it out too. If you ask me, they ought to rethink the aesthetic design–or at least make them harder to see.

Hopefully I’ll have more flight input after we visit the high tech areas of Tokyo!




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