JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I'm pretty sure that I've only written a plural of "Mona Lisa" a few times before in my history of writing--and that in reference to the real one, when it was stolen by Vincenzo Perugia (and company?) in 1911. (My guess is that it was stolen on demand for a collector and then offered for sale to a number of other underworld-y collectors who were sold fakes--at that point, what could they do (?) given that they couldn't exactly report the swindle to the police.) For me there are some iconic image of flying machines that made the news in the pre-Wright Brothers era, and I would consider the one here to be one of them.
It was designed by W. Ayres and happily and nattily appeared in the pages of the Scientific America (1885). It seems to have been a kind of helicopter/ornithopter, partially human powered and partially powered by compressed air that would run a generator that would run the little propellers situated around the aircraft. The frame of the craft was made of 1/4" steel tubes, though there is no indication of their thickness. Given that there's something like 40 feet of this pipe superstructure, I'm going to guess that the pipe was a pound/foot; then given the weight of the pilot, and the other bits and pieces, this antique drone would have to work very hard to lift its 200' payload. The (May 9th) article states that there is enough power generated to lift that 200 pounds, but...
In any event, I really like the image.