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Entries in airplanes (15)

Saturday
May072011

Urban Airport of the Future (1926)

The fine people at Popular Mechanics recently published a book that deserves a prominent place on every retrofuturist's bookshelf. The Wonderful Future That Never Was by Gregory Benford looks at technological predictions that appeared in the pages of Popular Mechanics from 1903 until 1969. The prediction below was an attempt to address what was seen as an inevitable problem; how to land personal aircraft in busy cities. The solution here was to erect a gigantic landing port supported atop four skyscrapers.

Since the airplane has become a factor in commerce, the question of suitable landings within city areas has grown in importance. One plan calls for an immense stage to be erected on top of four skyscraper towers, to span 1,400 square feet. The entire platform can handle 80,000 passengers and 30,000 tons of freight yearly.

 

Saturday
Apr232011

Fast Mail of To-morrow (1919)

Here at Paleofuture we often take a look at the most fantastical visions of the future: jetpacks, flying cars, meal pills, robot gigolos...

More rarely do we look at understated depictions of the future in history, simply because they tend to appear quite ordinary to modern eyes. This illustration by Harry Grant Dart -- a man who was no stranger to the cartoonish and the fantastical -- shows the U.S. airmail service in the not-too-distant future. The image appeared on the May 31, 1919 cover of Literary Digest and shows mail bags attached to parachutes, which are then dropped by airplane; all eyes of a small town fixated on this postal payload from the heavens.

While the first aerial mail service in the United State was tested in 1911, it wasn't until May 15, 1918 that the first mail route from New York to Washington D.C. was established. A few months later the U.S. Postal Service took over airmail duties from the U.S. Army, but regularly scheduled cross-country airmail didn't begin until 1924.

As one might expect, it took a long time to modernize airmail service, but Dart's image -- however quaint it appears today -- depicts one revolutionary step forward in making our world feel that much smaller.

 

Monday
Nov222010

This Age of Power and Wonder (1930s)

Companies of the early 20th century would often include collectible cards with their foodstuffs and tobacco smokes. The New York Public Library has an extensive collection of these cigarette cards available for viewing online, including many from a series by Max Cigarettes called This Age of Power and Wonder. This series from 1935-38 includes predictions of robot servants, spaceships, live television from exotic locations, and ubiquitous airports atop city high rises. Somewhat ironically for a cigarette manufacturer, card number six in this series of 250 predicted great advances in the treatment of cancer.

 

Wells Forecasts Space-Ships

 Television of the Future

Our Future Servants?

How London May Be Lighted

 The Amphibian At Work

 Atomic Fuel

Aerodrome of the Future

War on Cancer

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jun272010

Supersonic Jet Set May Land at Sea (1967)

As I type these words from the relative comfort of a chair 30,000 feet in the sky, I can't help but marvel at the incredible advancements aviation has made in the last hundred years. Being connected to the internet is but just one thing airline passengers now take for granted as humanity's ability to move from place to place and communicate has not only become easier but, probably most importantly, less expensive.

Today we have an image from the April 23, 1967 Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA) that accompanied an article imagining a "sea airport" or Sea Sky Terminal (SST) of the future. Some of the benefits listed in the article appear below.

Proponents of the dream terminal say that, among other things, it would:

1. Eliminate the danger of huge aircraft landing in congested areas.

2. Eliminate the noise associated with major airports.

3. Eliminate freeway and street congestion caused by ever-increasing numbers of air travelers trying to get in and out of major terminals.

4. Eliminate property problems, such as occurred in Los Angeles recently when that city had to purchase 400 omes in order to make room for a new runway for International Airport.

The sea airport of the future, engineers say, could be served by underwater subways and high-speed airfoil vessels. Helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and flying buses would link the seagoing airstrip with satellite airports in other cities, by-passing the freeways.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Mar202010

Private Planes of the Future (1944)

The July, 1944 issue of Popular Science contains this private plane of the future, as imagined by Douglas Rolfe.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Dec082009

Burglars of the Future (1910)

This illustration, from the September 10, 1910 New York Tribune, imagines the rooftop burglars of the future.

BURGLARS LEARN TO HANDLE THE AEROPLANE WITH PRECISION AND SILENCE: Our artist takes a look into the future and foresees the time when roofs must be secured as carefully as any other part of the home.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Saturday
Sep192009

Gernsback Imagines Life 50 Years Hence (1925)

Hugo Gernsback wrote a syndicated piece in 1925 that imagined the world of 1975. It appeared in the February 8th edition of the San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) and has an interesting mix of hits and misses. Highlights from the article are excerpted below. You can read the piece in its entirety here.

Gernsback recognized that the future had the potential to be even more fantastic than we could imagine:

The chances are that if someone runs across this fifty years from now, he will severely condemn the writer of this for his great lack of imagination, for, no matter how wild the predictions may seem now, they will look very tame fifty years hence. If someone had tried to explain radio to you fifty years ago, or the X-ray, or radium, he would have been put down as ripe for the insane asylum, and you may rest assured that we are no different today.

 

On television:

Movies by radio! Why not? You will be able to have a moving picture produced in some central plant and projected in your home, on your yacht, or on your camping trip, the picture being sent by radio, and received and projected upon your screen. All this is perfectly possible.

On teleportation:

By [1975], we shall be able to send all sorts of materials by radio. If you think that it is impossible to transmit a carload of coal thousands of miles, you need only go back less than fifty years, when it would have been thought equally impossible to have the street cars of Syracuse, N.Y., run by the power generated by Niagara Falls. Today no one thinks anything of this.

On personal transportation:

Each pedestrian will roll on electric skates, such as have been constructed even today. An insulated wire running from the skate to the head or shoulder of the skater will be sufficient to take the power from the radio power line, and we shall then all be propelled electrically at a pace at least four or five times as fast as we walk today.

On buildings of the future:

All of our buildings and houses are due for a great revolution. In the Wintertime all of our buildings will be warm, and in the Summertime they will be cool. The future buildings and house will be fashioned along the principle of a thermos bottle. Each wall will be double, and the space between the walls will be filled with cork or some other poor heat conductor.

On airplanes:

The tops of our tallest buildings will be flat and glass-covered. They will have airplane landing platforms on which all kinds of airplanes, or even the trans-Atlantic planes of the future will land.

On hanging gardens:

Our large office buildings, or, for that matter, private houses, will have real gardens with large trees on top of the roofs, as has already been tried experimentally with smaller plants in some of our large cities.

On electrified crops:

Not only that, but plant life will also be greatly stimulated as recent high frequency experiments on plants have shown. Our crops and plants will grow practically two to ten times as quickly and the crops will be more productive under this electrification. Under such stimulation it will be quite possible to raise crops at least twice or perhaps more often during the year; and the most interesting part about this is that it will cost the farmer absolutely nothing except for fertilizer. And this he requires anyway.

On moving sidewalks:

Below the elevated railway we have continuous moving platforms. There will be three such moving platforms alongside of each other. The first platform will move only a few miles per hour, the second at eight or ten miles per hour, and the third at twelve or fifteen miles per hour.

You step upon the slowest moving one from terra firma and move to the faster ones and take your seat. Then arriving at your station, you can either take the lift to the top platform or else you can get off upon the "elevated level" and take the fast train there. which stops only every thirty or forty blocks. Or, if you do not wish this, you can descent by the same elevator down to the local subway.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future: