Gusmao's Passarola airship, 1709

Gusmao's Passarola airship, 1709

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Gusmao's Passarola airship. Historical artwork of the Passarola airship design that was proposed in 1709 by the Portuguese priest and naturalist Bartolomeu de Gusmao (1685-1724). Gusmao presented this design to King John V of Portugal, and was awarded a professorship of mathematics at the University of Coimbra, and a lifetime's pension to support his work on the design. The design was similar to that of a kite, with the upper canopy intended to provide lift from either the wind, or a set of bellows. A scheduled public test never took place, but Gusmao is reported to have tried descending from hilltops with similar designs. Artwork from Astra Castra (Hatton Turner, London, 1865).

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