• Home Page
  • UFO Topics
  • UFO Photos
  • UFO Cases
  • Sighting Reports
  • Report a Sighting


Secrets of the Vimana


original source |  fair use notice

Summary: In various kinds of Asian and South Asian texts, we find references to flying machines and aerial vehicles. Chinese and Indian stories tell of peoples or individual artisans who constructed devices for travelling through the air.

The Ancient Legends

All images by Kamini Singh from South Asian Women's Forum - Monday, Oct 16, 2000

(1) An Overview of the Literature

"In various kinds of Asian and South Asian texts, we find references to flying machines and aerial vehicles. Chinese and Indian stories tell of peoples or individual artisans who constructed devices for travelling through the air. The stories take many different forms, including quite fanciful romances. Others present a picture of inventors taking pains to understand the basic principles of flight, and crafting machines of wood to achieve this goal."
     - Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts" (draft copy)

The word vimana is purportedly derived from vamana: "he who is able at three strides to take measure of the entire earth and heavens."

"In the Vedic literature of India, there are many descriptions of flying machines that are generally called vimanas. These fall into two categories: (1) manmade craft that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings, and (2) unstreamlined structures that fly in a mysterious manner and are generally not made by human beings. The machines in category (1) are described mainly in medieval, secular Sanskrit works dealing with architecture, automata, military siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances. Those in category (2) are described in ancient works such as the Rg Veda, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas, and they have many features reminiscent of UFOs."
     - Richard L. Thompson,
Alien Identities- Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena

"One time while King Citaketu was traveling in outer space on a brilliantly effulgent airplane given to him by Lord Vishnu, he saw Lord Siva..."
"The arrows released by Lord Siva appeared like fiery beams emanating from the sun globe and covered the three residential airplanes, which could then no longer be seen."
     - Srimad Bhagasvatam, Sixth Canto, Part 3

"The so-called 'Rama Empire' of Northern India and Pakistan developed at least fifteen thousand years ago on the Indian sub-continent and was a nation of many large, sophisticated cities, many of which are still to be found in the deserts of Pakistan, northern, and western India. Rama...was ruled by 'enlightened Priest-Kings' who governed the cities.
"The seven greatest capital cities of Rama were known in classical Hindu texts as 'The Seven Rishi Cities'. According to ancient Indian texts, the people had flying machines which were called 'vimanas'. The ancient Indian epic describes a vimana as a double- deck, circular aircraft with portholes and a dome, much as we would imagine a flying saucer. It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a 'melodious sound'. There were at least four different types of vimanas; some saucer shaped, others like long cylinders ('cigar shaped airships')."
     - D. Hatcher Childress, "Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology"
     In The Anti-Gravity Handbook

"An aerial chariot, the Pushpaka, conveys many people to the capital of Ayodhya. The sky is full of stupendous flying-machines, dark as night,but picked out by lights with a yellowish glare."
     - Mahavira of Bhavabhuti
     (A Jain text of the eighth century culled from older texts and traditions)

"The Vedas, ancient Hindu poems, thought to be the oldest of all the Indian texts, describe vimanas of various shapes and sizes: the 'ahnihotra-vimana' with two engines, the 'elephant-vimana' with more engines, and other types named after the kingfisher, ibis and other animals."
     - D. Hatcher Childress, "Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology"
     In The Anti-Gravity Handbook

"Now Vata's chariot's greatness! Breaking goes it,
And Thunderous is its noise,
To heaven it touches,
Makes light lurid [a red fiery glare], and whirls dust upon the earth."
     - Rig-Veda
(Vata is the Aryan god of wind.)

"Taoist tales often tell of adepts or immortals flying through the air. The xian were immortals capable of flight under their own divine power. They were said to be feathered, and a term that has been used for Taoist priests is yu ke, meaning 'feathered guest'. The fei tian, which might be translated as 'flying immortals', also appear in early tales, adding to the numbers of airborne beings in the Chinese mythological corpus."
"The Chinese tales of fei che, flying vehicles, exhibit the first understanding, perhaps, that humans would fly only with some kind of technological apparatus. A hymn written in the second century B.C. speaks of deity appearing in chariots drawn by flying dragons."
     - Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts" (draft copy)


(2) The Mahabharata

"The more typical vimanas had flight characteristics resembling those reported for UFOs, and the being associated with them were said to possess powers similar to those presently ascribed to UFO entities. An interesting example of a vimana is the flying machine which Salva, an ancient Indian king, acquired from Maya Danava, an inhabitant of a planetary system called Taltala."
     - Richard L. Thompson,
Alien Identities- Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena

"The cruel Salva had come mounted on the Saubha chariot that can go anywhere, and from it he killed many valiant Vrishni youths and evilly devastated all the city parks."
     - Mahabharata

"The Mahabharata, a poem of vast length and complexity, achieved its present form in the second century A.D."
     - Reader's Digest Mysteries of the Unexplained

"It is significant that Salva asked for a vehicle that could not be destroyed by Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas, Uragas, or Raksasas. These are all powerful races of humanoid beings that were openly active on the earth or in its general environs in Salva's time, and so naturally he wanted to be able to defend himself against them.
"Salva's vehicle is described as an iron city, and thus it must have been metallic in appearance and quite large....Many Vedic vimanas are described as flying cities, and one is reminded of the very large 'mother-ships' that are sometimes discussed in UFO reports."
     - Richard L. Thompson,
Alien Identities- Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena

"The airplane occupied by Salva was very mysterious. It was so extraordinary that sometimes many airplanes would appear to be in the sky, and sometimes there were apparently none. Sometimes the plane was visible and sometimes not visible, and the warriors of the Yadu dynasty were puzzled about the whereabouts of the peculiar airplane. Sometimes they would see the airplane on the ground, sometimes flying in the sky, sometimes resting on the peak of a hill and sometimes floating on the water. The wonderful airplane flew in the sky like a whirling firebrand - it was not steady even for a moment."
     - Bhaktivedanta, Swami Prabhupada, Krsna

"An Air Force RB-47, equipped with electronic countermeasure (ECM) gear and manned by six officers, was followed by an unidentified object for a distance of well over 700 mi. and for a time period of 1.5 hr., as it flew from Mississippi, through Louisiana and Texas and into Oklahoma. The object was, at various times, seen visually by the cockpit crew as an intensely luminous light, followed by ground-radar and detected on ECM monitoring gear aboard the RB-47. Of special interest in this case are several instances of simultaneous appearances and disappearances on all three of these physically distinct 'channels', and rapidity of maneuvers beyond the prior experience of the air crew."
     - July 17, 1957 sighting reported in the journal Astronautics and Aeronautics

"It is significant that Salva dropped such things as snakes, stones, and tree trunks from his vimana. There is no mention of bombs, and it would seem that even though Salva possessed a remarkable flying machine, he did not have the kind of aerial weapons technology used in World War II. He did, however, have a quite different technology, which could be used to affect the weather and produce whirlwinds, thunderbolts, and hailstones."
     - Richard L. Thompson,
Alien Identities- Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena

There is this account by the hero Krishna that is suggestive of more modern weapons. As he takes to the skies in pursuit of Salva:

"His Saubha clung to the sky at a league's length...He threw at me rockets, missiles, spears, spikes, battle-axes, three-bladed javelins, flame-throwers, without pausing....The sky...seemed to hold a hundred suns, a hundred moons...and a hundred myriad stars. Neither day nor night could be made out, or the points of compass."
     - The Mahabharata

Later, when Saubha becomes invisible, Krishna relates:

"I quickly laid on an arrow, which killed by seeking out sound, to kill them...All the Danavas [troops in Salva's army] who had been screeching lay dead, killed by the blazing sunlike arrows that were triggered by sound."
     - The Mahabharata

"But the Saubha itself has escaped the attack, and at last Krishna hurls against it his 'favorite fire weapon', a discus having the shape of the 'haloed sun'. Severed in two by the impact, the aerial city falls down.
"Salva himself is killed, and with his death this episode of The Mahabharata comes to an end."
     - Reader's Digest Mysteries of the Unexplained

In another episode the fearful Agneya weapon, "a blazing missile of smokeless fire" is unleashed by the hero Adwattan.

"Dense arrows of flame, like a great shower, issued forth upon creation, encompassing the enemy....A thick gloom swiftly settled upon the Pandava hosts. All points of the compass were lost in darkness. Fierce winds began to blow. Clouds roared upward, showering dust and gravel.
"Birds croaked madly...the very elements seemed disturbed. The sun seemed to waver in the heavens. The earth shook, scorched by the terrible violent heat of this weapon. Elephants burst into flame and ran to and fro in a frenzy...over a vast area, other animals crumpled to the ground and died. From all points of the compass the arrows of flame rained continuously and fiercely."

"Gurkha, flying in his swift and powerful Vimana, hurled against the three cities of the Vrishnis and Andhakas a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame as bright as the thousand suns rose in all its splendour...An iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas....The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. The hair and nails fell out; pottery broke without apparent cause, and the birds turned white....After a few hours all foodstuffs were infected.... To escape from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment..."
     - The Mahabharata

"It would seem that The Mahabharata is describing an atomic war! References like this one are not isolated; but battles, using a fantastic array of weapons and aerial vehicles are common in all the epic Indian books. One even describes a vimana-Vailix battle on the Moon! The above section very accurately describes what an atomic explosion would look like and the effects of the radioactivity on the population. Jumping into water is the only respite.
"When the Rishi City of Mohenjodaro was excavated by archaeologists in the last century, they found skeletons just lying in the streets, some of them holding hands, as if some great doom had suddenly overtaken them. These skeletons are among the most radioactive ever found, on a par with those found at Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
"Futhermore, at Mohenjo-Daro, a well planned city laid on a grid, with a plumbing system superior to those used in Pakistan and India today, the streets were littered with 'black lumps of glass'. These globs of glass were discovered to be clay pots that had melted under intense heat! "
     - D. Hatcher Childress, "Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology"
     In The Anti-Gravity Handbook

There is another account of such a weapon:

"Cuka, flying on board a high-powered vimana, hurled on to the triple city a single projectile charged with all the power of the universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright as ten thousand suns, rose in all the splendor... When the vimana returned to Earth, it looked like a splendid block of antimony resting on the ground."
     - Mausola Purva


An Examination of the Technology

(1) The Dreamlike Quality of Vimanas

"O King, this beautifully decorated airplane had been manufactured by the demon Maya and was equipped with weapons for all types of combat. It was inconceivable and indescribable. Indeed, it was sometimes visible and sometimes not. Seated in this airplane under a beautiful protective umbrella and being fanned by the best of camaras, Maharaja Bai, surrounded by his captains and commanders, appeared just like the moon rising in the evening, illuminating all directions."
     - Swami Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta, Srimad Bhagavatam

"The Vedic universe is described as a product of maya, or illusion, and it can be thought of as a universal virtual reality system.....The role of the computer is played by a fundamental energy called pradhana. This energy is activated by an expansion of the Supreme known as Maha-Visnu, who acts as the universal programmer. Thus activated pradhana produces subtle forms of energy, and these in turn produce gross matter."
"Uma, the wife of Lord Siva, is also known as Maya Devi, or the goddess in charge of the illusory energy. She is also the Mother Goddess who has been worshipped all over the world by many different names. Since Siva is Uma's husband, he is the master of illusion and technology. Thus there is a natural connection between Lord Siva, who Salva approached to obtain his vimana, and Maya Danava, the master of illusion who manufactured it."
     - Richard L. Thompson,
Alien Identities- Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena

Many of properties of the vimanas bring to mind the ephemeral nature of UFO's and their seeming ability to defy the conventional laws of physics. Carl Jung has remarked on the dreamlike quality of UFO's, and somewhere, amidst the observation of bright lights and lost time, the delineation between objective and subjective consciousness appears to break down.

"Our research has found extensive similarities between UFO encounters and religious and metaphysical mysticism, folklore, shamans' trances, migraine attacks, and even the operations of the creative imagination. Among the similarities are recurrent image-constants, a basically consistent sequence of events, and the unusual "peak experience" quality common to all. Also, very bizarre incidents in abduction reports have parallels in these phenomena. For example, the embarrassingly incredible "bodily dismemberment" sometimes reported by abductees is a regular feature of shaman's "death-rebirth" trances."
     - Alvin H. Lawson

Do the vimanas represent an ancient technology that utilizes the forces of nature (such as transient geophysical electrical fields) to effect human consciousness and alter the perception of reality? Certainly there have been rumors of psychotronic devices, such as those reported tested in the "M" Triangle area west of Moscow.

"There exists a natural phenomenon whose manifestations border on both the physical and the mental. There is a medium in which human dreams can be implemented, and this is the mechanism by which UFO events are generated, needing no superior intelligence to trigger them This would explain the fugitivity of UFO manifestations, the alleged contact with friendly occupants, and the fact that the objects appear to keep pace with human technology and to use current symbols."
     - Jacques Valleé

An early UFO report in 1929 (18 years before Kenneth Arnold filed his famous report which lead newspapers to coin the term "flying saucers") may be instructive. In a valley in between Mongolia and Tibet, a team of Norwegians and sherpas had just completed building a shrine dedicated to Shambhala. (To Tibetan lamas, Shambhala [which means "quietude"] is a secret place of enlightenment in the northern mountains.)

"On August fifth - something remarkable! We were in our camp in the Kukunor district not far from the Humboldt Chain. In the morning about half-past nine some of our caravaneers noticed a remarkably big black eagle flying over us. Seven of us began to watch this unusual bird. At this same moment another of our caravaneers remarked, 'There is something far above the bird'. And he shouted in his astonishment. We all saw, in a direction from north to south, something big and shiny reflecting the sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed. Crossing our camp the thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. And we saw how it disappeared in the intense blue sky. We even had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which was brilliant from the sun."
     - Nicholas Roerich, Altai-Himalaya

According to a lama, the shiny oval was a "Radiant form of Matter" from Shambhala. It was, he said, a protecting force that was always near but could not always be perceived. In Tibetan Buddhist belief"matter is a development of thought, crystallized mental energy".

"What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our like of tomorrow; our life is the creation of our mind."
     - The Dhammapada

Students are taught to mentally visualize their tutelary god which slowly takes on the same quasi-reality as a phantom monk. Under experienced control such ephemeral creations of the mind, or tulpas,can take many different forms such as man, animal, tree, rock, etc.

"Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker's control....Tibetan magicians also relate cases in which the tulpa is sent to fulfill a mission, but does not come back and pursues its peregrinations as a half-conscious, dangerously mischievous puppet. The same thing, it is said, may happen when the maker of the tulpa dies before having dissolved it."
     - Alexandra David-Neel, With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet


(2) Indian Technological Data

"There are ancient Indian accounts of manmade wooden vehicles that flew with wings in the manner of modern airplanes. Although these wooden vehicles were also called vimanas, most vimanas were not at all like airplanes. "
     - Richard L. Thompson,
Alien Identities- Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena

"According to ancient Sanskrit texts found a few years ago by Westerners in a South Indian temple, vimanas were open topped flying devices, not strictly UFOs since they were restricted to the Earth's atmosphere. Dr. Roberto Pinotti is an Italian scientist, and on the 12th of October 1988 was a speaker in the World Space Conference in Bangalore, India. He referred to several Hindu texts and pointed out that Indian gods and heroes fought in the skies using piloted vehicles armed with weapons. These weapons consisted of seven different types of mirrors and lenses which were used for offensive and defensive purposes. The 'Pinjula Mirror' offered a form of 'visual shield' preventing the pilots from 'evil rays', and the weapon named 'Marika' was used to shoot enemy aircraft. Dr. Pinotti said that these weapons 'do not seem to be too different from what we today call laser technology'.

"The vehicles themselves were made of special heat absorbing metals, called 'Somaka, Soundalike and Mourthwika'. According to Dr. Pinotti, the 'principles of propulsion as far as the descriptions were concerned, might be defined as electrical and chemical, but solar energy was involved as well.' Other scientists have put forward the theory that the craft were driven by some sort of mercury ion propulsion system. Dr. Pinotti concluded that the fact that vimanas were written about hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years ago, plus that they resembled modern UFOs would suggest that India had a '...superior but forgotten civilisation. In the light of this, we think it will be better to examine the Hindu texts and subject the descriptive models of vimanas to more scientific scrutiny'."
     - Nick Humphries, "UFO Guide"

"The Puspaku Car, that resembles the sun and belongs to my brother, was brought by the powerful Ravan; that aerial and excellent car, going everywhere at will, is ready for thee. That car, resembling a bright cloud in the sky, is in the city of Lanka."
     - Ramayana

"According to the Dronaparva, part of the Mahabarata, and the Ramayana, one vimana described was shaped like a sphere and born along at great speed on a mighty wind generated by mercury. It moved like a UFO, going up, down, backwards and forwards as the pilot desired. In another Indian source, the Samar, vimanas were 'iron machines, well-knit and smooth, with a charge of mercury that shot out of the back in the form of a roaring flame'. Another work called the Samaranganasutradhara describes how the vehicles were constructed. It is possible that mercury did have something to do with the propulsion, or more possibly, with the guidance system. Curiously, Soviet scientists have discovered what they call 'age-old instruments used in navigating cosmic vehicles' in caves in Turkestan and the Gobi Desert. The 'devices' are hemispherical objects of glass or porcelain, ending in a cone with a drop of mercury inside."
     - D. Hatcher Childress, "Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology"
     In The Anti-Gravity Handbook

"G. R.. Josyer, director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Research in Mysore, India, stated on September 25, 1952, that Indian manuscripts several thousands of years old dealt with the construction of various types of aircraft for civil aviation and for warfare.
"The specific manuscript on aeronautics included plans for three types of vimanas (aircraft), the Rukma, Sundara, and Shakuna. Five hundred stanzas of an ancient text treat of such intricate details as the choice and preparation of metals which would be suitable for various parts of vimanas of different types."
"There were eight chapters...that provided plans for the construction of aircraft that flew in the air, traveled under water, or floated pontoon-like on the water's surface. Some stanzas told of the qualifications and training of pilots."
     - Brad Steiger, Worlds Before Our Own

"Indeed, there are a remarkable number of stories which involve the construction of flying machines. Within some of these stories, we find an interesting clue as to their possible source. In another set of eleventh-century narratives, the Brihat Kath_ Álokasamgraha, carpenters are involved in the attempt to construct a flying vehicle. When asked by Rumanavat to build a machine which can fly, they reply that such aerial devices are only known to the Yavanas, i.e., the Greeks.
"This is repeated again in the same story, with the suggestion that it is kept as a secret by them. Another romance, the 'Deeds of King Harsha', from the seventh century, speaks of a flying machine made by a Greek who had been taken prisoner. Laufer notes that the term for the aerial machine in this tale is 'a mechanical vehicle (yantray_na) which travels on the surface of the air'."
Clive Hart, The Prehistory of Flight (Berkeley, 1985) "chronologically lists references in various Western texts to flying machines [pp.195-197 et ff.] It is notable that most of these early references to flight in these sources involve the use of man-made wings. There are no discussions of more complex man-carrying aerial vehicles as we found in the Chinese, Korean, and Indian tales."
     - Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts" (draft copy)


(3) Chinese and Korean Flying Devices

The earliest written Chinese account of flying machines describes them as taking place in remote antiquity. The following selections are from Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts", which I am able to quote with the kind permission of the author.

"The Chi Kung people were good at making mechanical devices for killing [all kinds of] birds. They could also make aerial carriages which, with a fair wind, traveled great distances. In the time of the emperor Thang [mid-second millennium B.C.], a westerly wind carried such a car as far as Yüchow, whereupon Thang had the car taken to pieces, not wishing his own people to see it. Ten years later there came an easterly wind (of sufficient strength), and then the car was reassembled and the visitors were sent back to their own country, which lies 40,000 li beyond the Jade Gate."
     - Chang Hua, "Po Wu Chih" ('Record of Investigation of Things') in the Po Wu Chih

Like the devices described in the Indian Brihat Kath_ Álokasamgraha, Chinese flying machines are often described as being made of wood and fly according to straightforward (although not understood) mechanical principles. The following accounts also postdate the spread of Hellenistic culture.

"On the southern peak of Tian Lau mountain, a long time ago, Lu Ban carved some wood into a crane which then flew 700 li. Later, the bird was placed on the west peak of the northern mountain. Emperor Wu [157-87 B.C.] ordered his people to go take it, but then it flew back to the southern peak. Often, when it looks like it is about to rain, then the bird's wings begin to move, flapping as if it is about to fly."
     - Shu I Chi

"By the third century A.D., we read of people constructing a flying vehicle."
     - Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts" (draft copy)

"Some use the inner part of the jujube [=date] tree to make a flying vehicle, using ox leather straps fastened to encircling blades, so as to propel this machine. Some others have the idea of making five snakes, six dragons, and three oxen [these are kites in the shape of these animals] encounter the 'hard wind', and so ride it (i.e., the vehicle), rising up 40 li. [That region] is called the Tai Qing ('Area of Upper Air'). In the Tai Qing region, the air is very hard, and can lift people. The Master says that a yuan [this word can mean 'kite' or 'hawk'] flying, spiraling higher and higher, only needs to straighten out its two wings and not flap them any more to move forward, because it is riding on the hard wind. The dragons when they first rise up, step on the clouds, going to 40 li [altitude], then fly by themselves. This account comes from the [Taoist] adepts, and is recounted, being handed down to ordinary people, yet the common people are not really able to understand it."
     - Ko Hung (A.D. 283-343), Pao Pu Tzu

"...The picture we get of the device is quite ambiguous, with ox leather straps somehow tied to a circle of swords or blades, or blades [moving?] around. The motion of the blades, though, is never really clearly described in the passage, nor is the overall configuration of the vehicle. We are left with the nonetheless interesting fact that there is a description of a mechanical device intended for flying."
"This is precisely what is relevant in these stories to the historian of science: the fact that a romantic tale or story should employ a mechanical device and at times even include a description of its construction or function. This fact does not necessarily mean that the stories contain elements of fact, or actual records of some now-lost technology."
     - Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts" (draft copy)

The Koreans have accounts of similar flying machines, although of much more recent derivation.

"There is another story related to these [ways of naming]. Jung Pyung Goo was the inventor of an airplane in Choson [Korea]. During the Im Jin War [between Korea and Japan, 1592-1597], when Jin Joo fortress was in danger, he rescued his friend by an airplane, flying 30 miles away, and then landing. The spinning top with which children play, 'Ping Goo', whirls around on the ground as it is whipped by them, and then lifts up into the air. This is like Jung Pyung Goo's riding of the airplane, moving up and down. So the name 'Pyung Goo' was given [to the top], changed to 'Ping Goo'."
     - Kwon Tokkyu in a 1923 Korean text

Where were such machines manufactured?

"Several thousand of li from China, in what is today Russia... it is said that the people were able to manufacture wheels for a flying machine. Each flying machine required four wheels in all. Furthermore, legend has it that they were able to fly one thousand li in one day. The people of Xi Wu [?] also produced a flying machine, and utilizing a bellows [usually] used in smelting, a pulley hauling device, and other methods, enabled the flying machine to move. The machine was able to float in the air and move freely and without obstacle on rivers or land. During the dangerous times of war and turmoil, this vehicle could be used to ward off attacks from the enemy."
     - Yi Kyu Gyong, "A Discriminating Look at the Possibilities of Flying Machines" in A Compilation of Previously Uncollected Texts from Throughout the World

"What caused the creation of this separate category of 'technical myths' is not entirely clear. One what might well ask why the some of the stories ever entered into discussions of machines at all. Why didn't stories of winged beings and levitating immortals simply continue? Why did this separate category of humans in flying machines arise? Perhaps there is a connection to the development of kites, which occurred at a period in China preceding many of these tales of 'aerial carriages'. Kites gave people a view of flight made practical: structures made of bamboo, wood, cloth, and paper, man-made devices actually airborne. There are even stories of kites large enough to hold individuals, a not implausible scenario."
     - Dr. Benjamin B. Olshin, "Mechanical Mythology: Private Descriptions of Flying Machines as Found in Early Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Other Texts" (draft copy)

Read more articles on this topic:

Vimanas of Ancient India