ancient aircraft design

Decoding the Mysteries of Ancient Aircraft Design

4 mins read


In the intriguing world of aerospace engineering, there are moments that push the boundaries of what we think we know about history and technology. One such moment occurred in April 2017 at the University of Irvine when aerospace engineer Travis Taylor embarked on a fascinating experiment.

Taylor and his team obtained a model of an aircraft based on ancient Indian texts, written around 500 BC, and subjected it to wind tunnel analysis. The goal? To determine if this centuries-old design had the potential to soar through the skies. Join us on this scientific journey as we explore the surprising results and the questions they raise about ancient knowledge.

Aero-archaeology in Action:

The centerpiece of this experiment was a meticulously crafted model of an ancient aircraft, modeled after descriptions found in ancient Indian texts. These texts, dating back nearly 1,800 years, have long fascinated scholars and history buffs alike, as they hint at the existence of advanced technology in ancient civilizations. But could an aircraft designed based on these ancient blueprints actually take flight in the modern era?

ancient spacecraft design

Wind Tunnel Analysis:

To find out, Travis Taylor and his team placed the aircraft model in a wind tunnel and subjected it to speeds of around 50 miles per hour. The primary objective was to measure the normal force, which indicates lift. In aviation, lift is the crucial force that allows an aircraft to ascend into the sky. Additionally, they monitored the stability of the aircraft, ensuring it didn’t sway uncontrollably.

The Exciting Results:

As the wind tunnel roared to life, suspense filled the air. The model aircraft exhibited a slight upward lift, a promising sign that it could indeed take flight. The team recorded various forces, torque, and pitch, meticulously collecting data to assess the aircraft’s aerodynamic properties.

The results were nothing short of astonishing. The normal force, or lift, consistently measured between 0.03 and 0.06 pounds of force. This meant that the ancient-inspired aircraft was showing positive lift, a characteristic shared with modern aircraft. In essence, it had passed the crucial test of aerodynamic viability.

Unlocking Ancient Wisdom:

The implications of these results are profound. They suggest that ancient Indian texts may contain knowledge of advanced technology that existed in a bygone era. The question that naturally arises is whether these texts also conceal secrets about advanced spacecraft, an idea that has captured the imagination of ancient astronaut theorists for years.

Scientific Rigor Prevails:

Critics may question the validity of drawing knowledge from texts that are centuries old. However, as Travis Taylor succinctly puts it, the only response is the evidence provided by a well-executed scientific experiment. The results speak for themselves, suggesting that the shape derived from these ancient texts is indeed a viable aerodynamic structure.



The experiment at the University of Irvine unveils the exciting intersection of history and technology. It reminds us that human ingenuity knows no bounds, and the past may hold the keys to future advancements. While the origins of the ancient Indian texts’ knowledge remain shrouded in mystery, one thing is clear: the quest to decode the secrets of our past continues to drive scientific exploration and discovery. As we look to the future, who knows what other ancient enigmas might be waiting to be unraveled?

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