Satire on steam-powered flight, Austria, 1846.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Etching titled in German 'Neueste Reise Dampf Maschine', showing a man seated on a steam-powered rocket-like contraption. It is an Austrian version of an English print satirising steam travel entitled; 'The Flight of Intellect: Mr Golightly experimenting on Mesrs Quick and Speed's new patent high-presure steam riding rocket'. In the early part of the 19th century, steam propulsion was regarded by some as something of an unreliable, if not downright dangerous, fad, with the risk of boiler explosions particularly to be feared. Although numerous designs for steam-powered flying machines were produced, the concept of the steam aircraft failed literally to get off the ground.