Flying machine inventor hopeful in 1891: inventing a flying machine capable of dropping dynamite on targets below will make rulers sick of war

Saturday, July 31, 2010

An article from The Agitator on June 3 1891 (over a decade before the first successful flights) details Hiram Maxim's plans to invent a flying machine, drop dynamite on Parliament, and get funding for the new technology to make rulers sick of war. The typed article follows the image.



Hiram S. Maxim, the head of the gun-making house of Maxim & Nordenfeldt, the electrician, the Yankee who has gone abroad and built works in half a dozen countries, one of them all but rivaling the great works of Krupp, is now in New York City. He is beyond 50 years of age, slightly deaf, and still carrying hints of his Connecticut origin in his speech.

For several years his mind has dwelt upon an experimental flying machine, with which he expects not only to revolutionize warfare, but communication between the nations of the earth. The machine now awaits his return to England before it shall be actually tried. In form it is a huge kite of silk, to which will be hung a platform carrying the engines and the screw propellers which they are to move and which are to force the kite through the air.

He believes that he has mastered the secret of imitating the action of birds in the air. He expects his machine to make 100 miles an hour or better, and to carry great loads of passengers or freight in peaceful times, or dynamite with which to pepper the habitations and works of an enemy in time of war.

He has gone at the business scientifically and in cold blood, figuring every step with pencil and paper, taking nothing for granted, and always reckoning on unseen and unthought-of hindrances that may obstruct or retard his success. Having invented guns that will automatically load and fire 1,000 shots by machinery set in motion by the mere kicking or recoil of the explosions, he knows what difficulties lie in the path of successful invention. Having led Edison and co-operated with Weston in the untrodden paths that led to the successful establishment of electrical illumination, he knows how it feels to cut loose from precedent and fight new problems in strange directions.

He explained the machine at great length recently and concluded: "I have already spent $45,000 on the machine. If it works, as I believe it will, I am going to take a great package of straw and label it dynamite, and drop it into Woolwich Dock-yard, or on the roof of the Houses of Parliament, and then go to the British Government and ask for an order to make a lot of 'em. There will be no way to guard against it. It will drop a ton of nitroglycerine into a place and you can't stop it. It will go into an enemy's country and drop dynamite on the gas-works, the water-works and the bridges -- those are the things to destroy. Instead of Tommy Atkins going ahead, musket in hand, and standing the brunt of the fighting, the big fellows who get up the wars will have to suffer. The first thing we will do will be to fly over the Emperor's palace and drop a ton of dynamite on the roof. What will it do? Why, a Russian officer said to me when I explained the thing to him: 'That will change the whole world in six months.'

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