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Top 10 Bungled Attempts at One-person Flight

        Science | Classic

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The Marquis de Bacqueville (1742)
An illustration depicting the Marquis de Bacqueville's attempted flight across the Seine, the moment before he plunged on top of the deck of a barge and broke his leg.
An illustration depicting the Marquis de Bacqueville's attempted flight across the Seine, the moment before he plunged on top of the deck of a barge and broke his leg.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Marquis de Bacqueville (c. 1680-1760) appeared to have had very little experience in the way of flight, but one morning in 1742 he woke and announĀ­ced his intent to fly from one side of the river Seine to the other. More specifically, the marquis planned to launch from a point in his mansion, located in Paris on a quay near the river, fly a distance of about 500 to 600 feet (152 to 183 meters) and land in the Jardin des Tuileries, the gardens situated near the palace of the same name.

A large crowd came to witness his attempt on the planned date in the same year. With large wings resembling paddles attached to both his hands and feet, the marquis jumped from a terrace on his mansion and proceeded to float toward the gardens. For a moment, the marquis appeared to have control, but after a short while he began to waver, and he eventually fell, slamming onto the deck of a barge and breaking his leg. Admitting defeat, the marquis gave up flying for good.

On the next page, you can read about another eccentric dreamer from Portugal.