'The aerial Man', Greenwich, London, 1809-1812.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph showing a winged flying machine, designed by Joseph Degan in 1808, in a fictitious flight past the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, piloted by a man wearing a top hat. The first design for an ornithopter, a flying machine with wings intended to be flapped like those of a bird, was produced by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century. Interest in the ornithopter revived in the 19th century, with several designs produced, including Degan's. Various mechanisms were devised for flapping the wings, none of them successful.