Starring Maris Ensing and the staff of themed design firm Mad Systems.
(May 10, 2012) — The history of aviation will never be the same.
Recently uncovered documents from the 1860s provide strong and shocking evidence that, long before the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, desperate inventors and engineers imagined steam-powered flying machines that would decide the Civil War. In the early 1860s, A Mississippi Doctor with a passion for birds and an obsession with the idea of manned flight makes a scale model of what he hopes will become the first heavier-than-air war-plane. Tethered to a locomotive, his model becomes airborne. But his requests for funding are rejected by the Virginia Legislature and the Engineering Department, leaving him no choice but to turn to the Confederate soldiers themselves to finance the building of a fleet of these flying machines. While he never raises more than a few hundred dollars before the war ends, it is impossible not to wonder – what if? Join National Geographic as they unravel the story of Civil War aviation and attempt to build and fly a full-scale 19th century airplane of their own.