Shivkar Bapuji Talpade - Picture
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Shivkar Bapuji Talpade
Shivkar Bapuji Talpade (1864-1916) was a Maharashtrian Pathare prabhu community member who purportedly flew an unmanned airplane, named MarutsakhÄ ("Marut-Air or Stream of Air, Sakha Friend", said of Sarasvati in RV 7.96.2), in the year 1895 (the first unmanned heavier-than-air flight was John Stringfellow's in 1848). Talpade stayed at Dukur Wadi, Chirrah Bazzar, Mumbai (Bombay). He was a scholar in Sanskrit literature and Vedas.
It is unclear whether Talpade's craft managed to take off, and if so, whether it qualified as an heavier-than-air aircraft. According to a study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Talpade constructed his models under the guidance of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry, the author of Vaimanika Shastra, but he was not successful in making any of them fly. The Times of India, in a 2004 article, quotes former principal defence scientific officer, D. H. Bedekar, as saying that, "Mr Talpade's plane for some technical reasons failed to operate to its full design limits". The article also references Velkar (1997), which quotes one of Talpade's students, P. Satwelkar, as saying that "the unmanned plane flew a few minutes and came down."
Velkar (1997) reports that Talpade studied the achievements of aviation pioneers like Hiram Maxim and "[Thomas] Alva Edison who flew in a balloon and survived a mishap in 1880". Velkar quotes one of Talpade's nieces, Roshan Talpade, as saying the family used to sit in the aircraft's frame and imagine they were flying. A model reconstruction of 'Marutsakha' was exhibited at an exhibition on aviation at Vile Parle, and Velkar refers to "some documents relating to the experiment" preserved at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore. Talpade made an appeal for funds for further experiments at a public meeting in Ahmedabad, without success
Ufology and Hindu national mysticist literature makes Talpade's pioneer plane a "space ship" (Vimana), constructed from knowledge distilled from the Rigveda. The claim seems to originate with D. K. Kanjilal's 1985 Vimana in Ancient India : Aeroplanes Or Flying Machines in Ancient India, but may have roots in contemporary reports in the proto-Hindutva Kesari newspaper. It is repeated e.g. by Hindu researcher Stephen Knapp, identifying the vehicle's propulsion system as a "mercury vortex engine" ("The Vedic Ion Machine"), apparently a device similar to ion thruster propulsion developed in the 1970s.
The Deccan Herald in 2003 carried an article which repeated Knapp's claim that the airplane was "based on Vedic technology" and that Talpade "was attracted by the Vaimanika Sastra (Aeronautical Science) expounded by the great Indian sage Maharishi Bhardwaja", a text that was only "channeled" 20 years after the alleged flight. The Deccan Herald article refers to an earlier article carried by the Kesari newspaper of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, which referred to a flight demonstration at the Chowpatty Beach of Bombay before a large audience, which included Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III.
PratÄpa Velakara, PÄá¹hÄre prabhÅ«x±cÄ itihÄsa: nÄmavanta lekhakÄx±cyÄ sasÌÌodhanÄtmaka likhÄá¹Äsaha : rise of Bombay from a fishing village to a flourishing town, Pune, ÅrÄ«vidyÄ PrakÄÅana (1997)