'Sir Hiram Maxim and his Machine', 1902.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
American engineer and inventor Hiram Maxim (1840-1916) designed and built a flying machine in 1893-1894. He had previously found fame by inventing the machine gun. This was the largest aeroplane to lift off briefly from the ground in the 19th century. Trials were undertaken at Baldwins Park, Bexleyheath, Kent. From 'The Conquest of the Air', subtitled 'the romance of aerial navigation', by John Alexander, with preface by Maxim, (London, 1902).