Henson's machine starting from viaduct runway, c 1842.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration. William Henson (1812-1888) patented his aerial Steam Carriage in 1842 and, although the Ariel never actually flew, there is no doubt that its design came to condition much of the thinking of the early aviation pioneers, and laid the foundations for the modern monoplane. Henson and his partner, John Stringfellow, planned to set up an airfreight company, the 'aerial Steam Transit Company' to transport goods around the world.