Maxim's flying machine, c 1894.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sir Hiram Maxim's (1840-1916) 'First Kite of War'. Maxim was an Anglo-American inventor who conducted large scale experiments in aeronautics. His flying machine had many wings which, in total, had a lifting area of 6000 square feet (540 square metres). It had two two-bladed propellers 17 feet 11 inches (5.5 metres) in diameter and was powered by two 180 horespower steam engines. Although Maxim managed to carry out sustained, man-powered flight, his machine was not aerodynamically controlled, and in no way constituted a practical flying machine - as Maxim himself was the first to admit.