Talpade – The Indian Sanskrit scholar who built and flew a mercury engine aircraft in 1895, 8 years before the Wright brothers!
Shivkur Bapuji Talpade, flew an unmanned aircraft, eight years before the Wright brothers demonstrated on December 17th 1903 that it was possible for a ‘manned heavier than air machine to fly’. But, in 1895, eight years earlier, the Sanskrit scholar Shivkar Bapuji Talpade had designed a basic aircraft called Marutsakthi (meaning Power of Air) based on Vedic technology documented in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts. His demonstration flight took place before a large audience in the Chowpathy beach of Bombay. The importance of the Wright brothers lies in the fact, that it was a manned flight for a distance of 120 feet and Orville Wright became the first man to fly. But Talpade’s unmanned aircraft flew to a height of 1500 feet before crashing down and the historian Evan Koshtka, has described Talpade as the ‘first creator of an aircraft’.
This historic day in 1895 (unfortunately the actual date is not mentioned in the Kesari newspaper of Pune which covered the event) was witnessed by the famous Indian judge/ nationalist/ Mahadeva Govin-da Ranade and H H Sayaji Rao Gaekwad.
It is important to note that Talpade was no scientist, just a sanskrit scholar who had built his aircraft entirely from the rich treasury of India’s Vedas.
Shivkar Bapuji Talpade was born in 1864 in the locality of Chirabazar at Dukkarwadi in Bombay. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and from his young age was attracted by the Vaimanika Sastra (Aeronautical Science) expounded by the great Indian sage Maharishi Bhardwaja.
Surprisingly according to the bi-monthly Ancient Skies published in USA, the aircraft engines being developed for future use by NASA also uses mercury bombardment units powered by Solar cells! Interestingly, the impulse is generated in seven stages.
The mercury propellant is first vapourised fed into the thruster discharge chamber ionised converted into plasma by a combination with electrons broke down electrically and then accelerated through small openings in a screen to pass out of the engine at velocities between 1200 to 3000 kilometres per minute! But so far NASA has been able to produce an experimental basis only a one pound of thrust by its scientists a power derivation virtually useless. But over 100 years ago Talpade was able to use his knowledge of Vaimanika Shastra to produce sufficient thrust to lift his aircraft 1500 feet into the air! Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad of Baroda was a great supporter of the Sciences in India, and was willing to help Talpade with
funds to build his aircraft and the mercury engines.
But the success of an Indian scientist was not liked by the Imperial rulers. Warned by the British Government the Maharaja of Baroda stopped helping Talpade. Talpade passed away in 1916 unhonoured, in his own country. It is said that the remains of the Marutsakthi (the aircraft
Tapade built) were ‘sold’ to a British company by Talpade’s relatives.