Picture of the Day: The Avion III, a Turn-of-the-Century Flying Machine

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This little drawing of one of Clément Ader's flying machine's comes from the trading cards found inside a pack of Wills cigarettes from sometime around 1909-1912. The card depicts Ader's bat-like Avion III, though the flight of the illustration is more artist's imagination than reality. The Avion III never made it very far off the ground. An 1897 test run at an army base near Versailles was a failure, resulting in a loss of military funding for the project, though Ader would later claim there had been a successful, short flight. Today, the Avion III is housed at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris. The above image comes from the New York Public Library's cigarette-card collection, which contains more than 125,000 items, not all of which have been digitized. 

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Image: NASA.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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