I've come across a lot of Indian sources claiming that an Indian man named Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade made an airplane or flying device in 1895.

Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade (1864 – 1916) was an Indian scholar who is said to have constructed and flown an unmanned airplane in 1895. Talpade lived in Bombay and was a scholar of Sanskrit literature and the Vedas.

from Wikipedia

Move over Wright brothers -- it was Shivkar Bapuji Talpade who first flew a flying machine over Chowpatty in 1895, eight years before the American siblings, according to the abstract of a paper to be presented at the 102nd Indian Science Congress in Mumbai on January 4.

from the Hindustan Times

There is even a high budget movie about him called Hawaizaada or Bambai Fairytale.

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    The Wright brothers are not famous because they made the first flying machine, they are famous because they made the first powered, controllable, person-carrying aircraft. So there is no "Move over Wright brothers". Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 14:52
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    I found this article which seems to explore this myth/half-truth with a variety of sources. But I don't have the time to put together an answer. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 16:44
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    If Greek mythology is to be believed, Icarus made a flying machines over 2 thousand years ago. People have been building flying machines since the dawn of time. What the Wright brothers did was to build the first flying machine that worked and was practical.
    – ventsyv
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:09
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    @ventsyv ... The machine Icarus used was made by Daedalus, his father.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:34
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    Ah, I stand corrected...
    – ventsyv
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


No. It seems that accounts of Talpade's work originate in a book that appeared around 1904 and which has been long discredited by Indian scientists.

The article mentioned by DaaaahWhoosh says ...

In 1974, scientists of Bangalore's Indian Institute of Science published a study after examining the theories put out in the treatise, and concluded that not only isn't the work ancient (it cannot be dated before 1904), most of the theories put forth are un- feasible. Noting that Talpade built models under the guidance of Shastry but did not succeed in making any of them fly, the researchers write, 'The planes described above are the best poor concoctions, rather than expressions of something real. None of the planes have properties or capabilities of being flown; the geometries are unimaginably horrendous from the point of view of flying; and the principles of propulsion make them resist rather than assist flying.'

See A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE WORK “VYMANIKA SHASTRA” by H.S. MUKUNDA §, S.M. DESHPANDE § , H.R. NAGENDRA §§ , A. PRABHU § , AND S.P. GOVINDARAJU § Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore ‐ 560012 (Karnataka)

... Dr. Talpade (of Bombay) tried to make models under the guidance of Shastriji, but that he was not successful in making any of them fly.

Image of type of aircraft in texts used by Talpade

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    Where is the picture from, what is it's source and what is it doing here? Is it part of Talpade's research?
    – Dudey
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 1:42
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    @Wally: The image is from the book "VYMANIKA SHASTRA" discussed in the document referenced above. I believe it is based on drawings or descriptions in older books but has had a propeller added to it. It illustrates the type of aircraft design that Talpade was allegedly attempting to build. Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 9:31
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    holybooks-lichtenbergpress.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/… Full text of the "VYMANIKA SHASTRA"
    – Dudey
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 5:48

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