Here are a few selections from the wonderful book Victorian Inventions
Dr W.O. Ayers of New Haven in the United States of America has designed a new flying machine so Utopian in conception that serious doubts may well be entertained with regard to its feasibility. Be that as it may, the fact that such a serious publication as the Scientific American has devoted space to this machine in its columns is reason enough for our decision not to deprive our readers of a short discussion of this project.
The propulsive power is derived from compressed air transported in two cylindrical vessels; this air also fills the hollow tubes in the framework of the machine. Compressed to a pressure of 200 atmospheres, the quantity of air conveyed is adequate to drive the machine for several hours.
The Scientific American gives further details: ‘It is possible that the propellors may require to be made larger, but providing the principle is maintained, we consider that a machine such as this can do successfully what is expected of it. In order to afford support for two systems of propellers, one horizontal and one vertical, a table-like frame is required. The dimensions of this are 3 feet by 4 feet while it is supported by four legs 4 feet in height. Quarter-inch-thick steel gives the tubing all the strength needed. The rider, or aeronaut, sits upon a saddle like that of a bicycle, suspended from the top of the frame by steel wires.
The four horizontal propellors serve to give the craft sufficient lifting-power. They are driven not only by the compressed air but also by the lower limbs of the rider thrusting on pedals of the type employed in bicycles. Attached to each cylinder of compressed air is a driving engine in which a paddle-wheel is brought into rotating motion by the flow of air. With his left hand the rider regulates the valve for the air-supply, while with his right arm he drives the vertically revolving propellor which thrusts the machine forward.
Hmm, an air-air-hog. I won’t be signing up for a test ride.
From the same page, an airship with a very smoky traditional-looking steam engine.
See also this video of steam flight:
(look, my own experiments in compressed-air bicycling have shown that the torque is there, but not the storage capacity. You’d have to have a compressed air tank the size of a ship and it would weigh tons)
4x4 Willys for sale at Hemmings. With the machine gun barrel exhaust, bayonet grip, and airplane steering wheel, I wanna like it, but I just can’t.