'An Air Balloon invented in the last Century', 1670.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraved plate from the 'European Magazine' showing the first proposal for a lighter-than-air craft made by the Jesuit, Francesco de Lana (1631-1687) in his scientific treatise 'Prodromo' (1670). De Lana's aerial ship consisted of a sailing boat with four airles copper globes attached to it. He believed that the globes would make the boat float in the air, while the sail could provide the propulsion. He also considered the use of oars, as can be seen in this illustration. De Lana never realised his plans, but his project served as an inspiration to others who continued to advance the lighter-than-air principle in there designs for aerial machines. Published by J Sewell, Cornhill, London, 1 March 1789.