Anyone’s who’s played Trivial Pursuit has probably had to remember the names of Orville and Wilbur Wright and their famous first sustained heavier than air flight in 1903. The whole world is familiar with these American names.
However, according to a report in Chosun Daily, a major South Korean media outlet, the actual first “flying vehicle” my have been built in Korea 400 years earlier. It was reported in old historical records and used to rescue the lord during an attack by flying him an impressive 17km away.
Not only could it fly 17km, but according to texts it could also carry an amazing 4 people. Although it made a crash landing due to strong winds, it was able to rise 200m.
In December of 2000, the Korean Air Force and Konkuk University worked together to recreate one of these vehicles, which were basically early gliders, using the same materials available at the time. They could declare a partial success by creating a working glider one half of the original size mentioned in records.
It’s unclear why the model was only half the original size of the flying device built during the Chosun Dynasty. This would place the Korean flight shortly after Da Vinci developed his flying screw and parachute concepts during the Italian Renaissance.
Interestingly, around this time the rules of Shogi (the Japanese variant of chess) were solidified. One of the pieces of the game which is equivalent to Chess’ “rook” uses the Chinese characters “飛車” meaning “flying vehicle.”
Probably it’s just a coincidence, but who knows? One day a Korean archeologist might make a significant find that will rewrite the Trival Pursuit cards forever.
[ Read in Japanese ]