Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade (1864 – 1916) was an Indian instructor in the Sir JJ School of Art with an interest in Sanskrit and in aviation. He lived in Mumbai, and is claimed to have constructed and flown an unmanned, heavier-than-air aircraft in 1895. Contemporary accounts of a successful flight do not exist, and no reliable historical records document its existence.
Talpade is reputed to have constructed an unmanned, heavier-than-air aircraft, named Marutsakhā, and flown it above Bombay’s Chowpatty Beach in 1895.
Contemporary accounts of a successful flight do not exist, and no reliable historical records document its existence
Talpade’s aircraft was reputed to have flown to a height of 1,500 feet (460 m), a claim that Velkar denies, stating that it rose to a small height before crashing.
The aircraft has been described as a cylinder of bamboo, and to have used mercury or urine as a fuel.
Some of Talpade’s drawings were said to have been sent to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), but Anuradha Reddy, a historian of aviation, was unable to trace them.
The aircraft itself has been described as being sold to Rallis Brothers, or to HAL.
Some accounts of the event stated that the flight was watched by Sayajirao Gaekwad III, then the Maharaja of Baroda, but direct evidence for this is scant.
Velkar states that no royals attended, as it was not well-publicized.
The aircraft was purportedly inspired by the Vaimānika Shāstra (“Science of Aeronautics”), a text authored in 1904 that is frequently associated with descriptions of aircraft in the Vedas.
The technological feasibility of the designs in the Vaimānika Shāstra was debunked in a 1974 paper by scientists from the Indian Institute of Science.
The Vaimānika Shāstra itself states that Talpade was unsuccessful in his attempt to construct an aircraft.
Indians believe that Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade was the one who first invented and flew the airplane much before the Wright Brothers.