Friday, 27 April 2007

King Ludwig's Flying Car

Last year English newpaper The Observer published an article on Ludwig II's designs for an airship.

It's been a long wait, but finally King Ludwig II of Bavaria can rest easy in his grave: 120 years after his death, German scientists have shown him to be one of the unsung pioneers of flight. Ludwig, whose fantastical castle at Neuschwanstein aptly featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, drew up plans for a flying car more than two decades before the Wright brothers took to the air, but when he tried to build it he was declared insane and stripped of his crown. But now German aeronautical experts who have studied Ludwig's designs say they would have worked. Sketches recovered from letters between the ruler and Austrian engineer Gustav Koch show the monarch had planned to create a fleet of flying machines that would take him across his beloved Alpine lakes to his many castles, including the fairytale Neuschwanstein. The craft he designed looked like flying cable cars powered by steam engines. They were decorated like peacocks. But his dreams of flying over the mountains of Bavaria only convinced his opponents that he was mad, and he was declared insane on 10 June, 1886, and deposed.

He died shortly afterwards and his drawings were consigned to an archive. Now aeronautical experts have dug them out and re-created them on computer. Dalibor Karacic is working on the project to re-draw the machines. He said: 'King Ludwig was unbelievably progressive. He understood technology. The flying peacock cars may have looked funny, but technologically they were sound and certainly would have worked. He couldn't have been mad, otherwise his ideas would never have worked. He was simply ahead of his time.'

Thanks to help from Steampunks at Yahoo we now have some pictures to go with the story via this Norwegian article.


Her Grace, Eva Bellambi said...

Simply amazing! Thank you for sharing this with us, Mr Pearse.

Amber_Palowakski said...

That is so awesome, Mr. Pearse! Thank you!