'The aerostat - Worked by Manual Power', 1843.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by C F Cheffins after an original drawing by J Absolon, published by Ackermann & Co in 1843. It shows a man piloting a flying machine which is powered by pulling levers in order to flap the wings. This type of flying machine, with wings intended to be flapped like those of a bird, is known as an ornithopter. The first design for an ornithopter was produced by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century. Interest in the ornithopter revived in the 19th century, with several designs produced. Various mechanisms were devised for flapping the wings, none of them succesful.