• Swedenborg’s 1714 Airplane

    By Henry Soderberg

    Anticipating the modern airplane by more than 150 years, Swedish scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) developed one of the earliest functional designs for a flying machine. Aviation expert Henry Soderberg examines Swedenborg's design from an aviation perspective and discusses its place in the history of flight. Read more

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Though better known for his theological writings, Swedish scientist and visionary Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was also an inventor who was extraordinarily ahead of his time. One of his early designs, circa 1714, was “a machine to fly in the air” — anticipating the modern airplane by more than 150 years. With its oval, fixed “sail,” Swedenborg’s contribution soars above its predecessors with its simple, workable design.

Henry Soderberg encountered this remarkable invention while research for a book on the history of flight. In this account Soderberg offers an overview on the dream of flight through the centuries and places Swedenborg at a pivotal point in aviation history.

About the Author

Henry Soderberg, born in Linkoping, Sweden, in 1916, was active in aviation throughout most of its formative years. In 1947, he joined the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration, specializing in air political matters, and represented the Swedish government to the United Nations special agency for civil aviation. He joined Scandinavian Airline Systems in 1966 as Director of IATA (International Air Transport Association) matters, and in 1969 became a vice president and chief of aeropolitcal and foreign affairs. He writes and lectures internationally on aviation and the history of flight.

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Henry Soderberg




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