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Marvelous Early Flying Machines

Most early flying machines were ingenious; many were downright beautiful; some were impractical; all, in one way or another, were fantastic. See the full gallery at Life.com.

Marvelous Early Flying Machines: The Marquis' Multiplane

In the years just before and after the Wright brothers' legendary flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, the science -- and the art -- of aviation caught the public imagination like few technological pursuits before or since. The Marquis d'Ecquevilley with his multiplane (designed after Chinese lanterns) at Arles. 

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: Flying Doughnut

An early prototype of the "Flying Doughnut."

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: Hang Glider Experiments at Lake Michigan

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: Flying Man

German aviator Otto Lilienthal (1849 - 1896) demonstrating the first glider he invented.

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: Circular Multiplane

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: On Epsom Downs

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: Venetian

Horatio Phillips' "Venetian Blind" multiplane, possibly the first aircraft ever to fly in Britain.

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines: This Is Not a Toy

Here, an experimental biplane, designed by Louis Paulhan. See the full gallery of beautiful early flying contraptions at Life.com.

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Marvelous Early Flying Machines

Most early flying machines were ingenious; many were downright beautiful; some were impractical; all, in one way or another, were fantastic. See the full gallery at Life.com.

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