Old plans for a confederate flying machine have arisen . . . from a rare bookshop. These plans detail a war machine that flew above Civil War battlefields. If brought to fruition during the time plans were drafted, it would have beat the Wright brothers to the punch by about 40 years.
But hunt found it difficult to find an engineer willing to build the device, despite getting the help of Confederate president Jefferson Davis to have the proposal considered. Letters between Hunt and a Confederate review board show that other engineers had strong doubts about the "steam flying machine." First, the engineers said Hunt had dramatically overestimated the engine's power and ability to keep the machine flying. They also described another error in Hunt's reasoning as being "so obvious on reflection that no discussion is required." "When they turned him down, it was over the science of it," Bobby Livingston, vice president of sales and marketing with RR Auction, told InnovationNewsDaily. "But they considered it, and considered it a lot."
This didn't stop him. As the papers show, he even pitches the idea to the then Confederate president Jefferson Davis. After the Civil War, Innovation News Daily reports that Hunt got a patent for his designs and created a couple working models. Although none of them got off the ground:
"It looks to me like he's 40 years before the Wright brothers with a rotary engine driving propellers, but I don't know how close he was," Livingston said. "He never got the money to do it."
The papers will go up for auction Sept. 15 through 22 at the Space and Aviation Artifacts auction.