Today the military uses Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles to remotely bomb foreign targets. This must be the UCAV’s great grandfather.
“I can,” says Mr. Phillips, “sit in an armchair in London and make my airship drop a bunch of flowers into a friend’s garden in Manchester or Paris or Berlin.”
But it is not for the dropping of flowers that he intends his invention. It is for the dropping of dynamite bombs.
[At the London Hippodrome, Phillips demonstrated with] a twenty-foot model of a Zeppelin dirigible. In itself the thing looked harmless enough… It looked like a toy balloon at the mercy of any gust of wind — purposeless, slow, and unwieldy.
And then suddenly — Cr-r-rack! Mr. Raymond Phillips had touched a lever, and the airship sprang into life. Nothing had touched it — nothing, that is, that could be seen by the eye of any human being — and yet at that touch and at the sound of the compelling “Cr-r-rack!” the airship model awoke and became a purposeful thing.
“Crack, crack!” again and again. Running his fingers from one key to another he stopped it dead, turned it about, made it rise and fall, made it turn figures of eight in the air, and finally stopped it again, motionless in the air, forty feet above the orchestra stalls.
“Now,” said he, “just imagine that row of seats is a row of houses, and that instead of a model, with paper toys in its hold, I am controlling a full-sized airship carrying a cargo of dynamite bombs. Watch!”
He pressed another key. There was a faint click from the framework of the airship, and the bottom of the box that hung amidships fell like a trapdoor, releasing not bombs, but a flight of paper birds that fluttered gracefully down on the seats beneath.
The whole article is very interesting. But for the life of me I cannot figure out what any of it has to do with that woman in the middle photo who has antennae attached to her back. It’s hard to see, but I think the caption says “A Dress Lighted by Wireless.” I have no idea.
TORPEDO AIRSHIP CONTROLLED BY WIRELESS IS THE LATEST INVENTION: Thomas R. Phillips, Who Made It, Claims to Control a Dirigible Balloon Loaded with Bombs Without Leaving His Office. (PDF)
From May 22, 1910