JF Ptak Science Books Post 1438
I found these elements of sameness in design, spanning prehistoric flight and prehistoric space flight eras, separated by 170 years or so, and they just seemed fascinating. The first, by Boitard for Robert Paltock's (or Pultock, 1697–1767) The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins, a Cornish Man, Relating Particularly, His Shipwreck near the South Pole; his Wonderful Passage thro a Subterraneous Cavern into a kind of New World, his there Meeting with a Gawry or Flying Woman, was published in London in 1751 pictures the flying woman from the title (which also pretty much sums up the Robinson Crusoe-like story. Wilkins does become shipwrecked and then has an extraordinary adventure underground at the South Pole--which is interesting in and off itself, to set the stage at the South Pole, since the exploration of Antarctica is really a 20th century endeavor. (The first accurate summation of Antarctica as a continent isn't made until Charles Wilkes' expedition in 1839/40.)
The flying woman is striking, especially for the mid 18th century: she is quite lovely, muscular, and tall, and has her limbs attached to a flying/gliding canopy which seems as though it would be operated in a way in which the people of that time thought birds to fly.
The associated image is Walter Hohmann's prescient work on rockets and rocket flight, Die Erreichbarkeit der Himmelskoerper, Untersuchungen ueber das Raumfahrtproblem, which was published in that great heyday of German flight engineering, in 1925. It was published very soon after the important work of Hermann Oberth2, whose style, illustration and design are closely aligned. It is very interesting to note here that Hohmann (and Oberth) both suggested using teh Earth's gravitational field to orbit the spacecraft and then slignshot it off into space, rather than to try to simply lift of from Earth and then go directly into space.
1. Biographical Dictionary of English Literature was not impressed by it saying: "The description of Nosmnbdsgrutt, the country of the flying people, is a dull imitation of Swift, and much else in the book is tedious.
2. Oberth's book, Die Rakete zu den Planetenraum was printed in 1923 by the same publisher as Hohmann, and was a cornerstone study of the issue of interplanetary space travel--the first of its kind, really, to address the full theoretical and practical aspects of rockets and space flight. Oberth--who wrote this at age 28--could not submit the work for his thesis because of its advanced treatment of a little-known subject.