The romantic urge to defy gravity, to experience weightlessness gives way or is preceded by the urge to use this ability as a device of war.
Early Aeronautics dreamer, Jesuit priest Francesco Lana de Terzi, who designed his flying boat in 1670 held aloft by copper vacuum spheres never tried to build it as he feared it military application: “God Will never allow such a machine to be built…because everybody realizes that no city would be safe from raids…iron weights, fireballs and bombs hurdled from great heights”
The Wright brothers convinced the world of the the viability of air power in time for its inclusion in WWI. Radio Labs Broadcast on the Wright Brothers.
And the many wars to follow.
At the Air and Space Museum, Flight simulators abound. They are war machines. Gunner and Pilot take to the simulacra fighting their way through the skies.
I ask the attendant if I might fly with out the guns. Just pure flight. She says that’s unusual and that generally they would have to charge me for the cost of the gunner as well, but as its a slow day, what’s the harm.
I enter the simulation alone. During my ride there is no diving to escape enemy fire, no blaring music, no sound of aerial bombardment. There is only the feeling of rising up and gliding across the open sea.
In each of these scenarios though there was still a flyer in the heavier than air machine. Someone to look out the window and make a choice.
The Town has opened to the sun.
Like a flat red lily with a million petals
She unfolds, she comes undone.
A sharp sky brushes upon
The myriad glittering chimney-pots
As she gently exhales to the sun.
Hurrying creatures run
Down the labyrinth of the sinister flower.
What is it they shun?
A dark bird falls from the sun.
It curves in a rush to the heart of the vast
Flower: the day has begun.