Ancient Flight

The Egyptian Airplane

         
In 1898, a peculiar six-inch wooden object was found in a tomb at Saqquara, Egypt that dated back to about 200 BCE. The object had a body or fuselage, seven-inch wings that curved downward slightly, a fixed rudder, and a tail. It looked very much like a modern airplane or glider. But, since airplanes had not yet been invented in 1898 (never mind ancient Egypt), it was labeled as a model of a bird and stored away in the basement of the Cairo museum.
          The object was rediscovered many years later by Dr. Khalil Messiha, an authority on ancient models. According to Messiha and others who have studied the object, it has characteristics of very advanced aerodynamics, much like modern pusher-gliders that require very little power to stay aloft. The curved wings are today known as reverse dihedral wings, which can attain great amounts of lift. A similar design is employed on the supersonic Concorde aircraft.
          Was this just a child's toy? Or was it a scale model of an aircraft the Egyptians planned to build... or did build? If they did build a full-scale version of the aircraft, no evidence exists for it. No full-size airplanes have been found in any pharaoh's tomb to fly him to the land of the dead.



Central and South American Shuttle

         
Egypt isn't the only ancient civilization that has produced puzzling artifacts. A remarkable gold trinket estimated to be at least 1,000 years old - dating perhaps to between 500 and 800 AD - was found in Central America and along coastal areas of South America. If you weren't aware of its age, you might guess that it was a child's model of the Space Shuttle or a delta wing fighter aircraft.
          When the artifact was discovered, archaeologists called it a zoomorph, or animal-shaped object. It resembles no known flying animal. However, It looks distinctly mechanical with its delta-shaped wings, stabilizer fins, and rudder. It even has what looks like a pilot's seat in the right place. Experts in aerodynamics, however, contend that the wings are too far back for the object's center of gravity and that the nose is not aerodynamically sound.
          Whatever this object is supposed to be or represent, its remarkable resemblance to a modern aircraft or spacecraft is uncanny.

 

   

Flying Gods
The Gods Who Flew

 

Text version of this site