One of our oldest works is entitled Considerations on the Order of Cincinnatus, which was printed for J. Johnson in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, London in 1785. Included in the book is an abstract of Dr. Richard Price’s Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, with notes and reflections upon that work.
Dr. Price was a fellow of the Royal Society of London and of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in New England who wrote this early statement upon the existence of airplanes: “Who, even at the beginning of this century, would have thought, that in a few years they would acquire the power of subjecting to their wills the dreadful force of lighting, and of flying in aerostatic machines?”
He goes on to note: “It would not be difficult, for instance, to prove, that aerostatic machines may, even before they be at all improved, have considerable influence in war, both by land and sea. Perhaps that horrid infatuation called war will never cease, till the art of destruction be carried to its highest perfection.”
And so, one of the earliest reference to human flight, even if just by hot air balloons, emphasizes its potential for war and annihilation rather than its benefits for mankind.