JF Science Books Quick Post
The Montgolfier Brothers had taken to the air more than 100 years before this image, for the first real experience of humans flying, though through the centuries there have been stories and reflections on all manner of human flight, from Daedalus' waxed wings to de Bergerac's bird-power ship balloons. And of course the intonations of flight have been around for nearly just as long, though much of that was accomplish via acting and not so much by theatrical machinery.
A superior, and smallish, and elegant theatrical accomplishment in this area was tripped over by me in a browse through an 1889 volume of Scientific American Supplement while looking for an article about Tesla. And there, in the issue of March 16, 1889 (on page 11008 (!)) was the Amphitrite. Or at least the apparatus seems to be called by that name, I think, even though in Greek mythology it is the name of the sea-goddess and wife of Poseidon. In any even it was an ingenious idea--the actor would be placed on a vertical rotating platform and by use of lighting and mirrors their form would be seen on a horizontal screen/background; so if the background was stationary and the actor was twirled on the platform, the effect would be a flying actor against whatever background was chosen. And so on. That's pretty good.