On this day, 12th November 1894, Australian inventor Lawrence Hargrave demonstrated that it was possible for man to fly.
Lawrence Hargrave was born in England in 1850, but emigrated to Australia in 1865. He undertook an engineering apprenticeship in Sydney, experimented with aerodynamic studies including flying machines and invented the box kite in 1893.
On 12 November 1894, Hargrave linked four of his kites together, added a sling seat, and flew about five metres in the air on a beach near Wollongong, New South Wales. In doing so, he demonstrated that it was possible for man to build, and be transported in, a safe and stable flying machine. His radical design for a wing that could support far more than its own weight opened up opportunities for other inventors to develop the design for commercial purposes. Hargrave never patented his designs, so did not receive the recognition he deserved.
Lawrence Hargrave [working on a boxkite, Woollahra Point, ca. 1910]