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APPENDIX A: The possible technologies enabling prehistoric airships (Vailixi-A and Rama Vimaan)

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[Caution: Speculation ahead]

The ancient writings of India seem to include references to both aircraft and spacecraft in use during prehistoric times, by a nation called the Rama Empire. The aircraft (or "vimaan") are classified as both short-range and long-range transports. There was also a category of military aircraft which was required to be especially robust: fireproof and otherwise indestructible (read: extraordinary safety precautions were taken in their design and construction), capable of rapid acceleration and braking, stealthy, possessed of superb surveillance and recording capabilities, apparently equipped with radar or sonar for tracking enemy craft, zooming telescopic imagery and adjustable audio instrumentation, and powerful weapons capable of stunning other aircraft crews or outright destroying enemy vehicles. Pilots and passengers were specially equipped to survive multiple environments (Space suits? Wet suits?). The craft also possessed interior climate controls, were very lightweight, and constructed of heat conducting/absorbing materials.

But there was apparently another group of the time in possession of aircraft similar in at least some capacities to the first. An enemy.

"Asvin" was one term for them. "Vailixi" was the name for their airships. The Asvin airships or other technologies may have been somewhat superior to the Rama vessels. Raman accounts accuse the Asvin of attempting to conquer or dominate other nations with their technology. The Asvin civilization may have been older than the Rama, too. The Vailixi were usually cigar-shaped, (though other shapes were also used) and boasted the capacities to travel undersea as well as the atmosphere, and even into space. Some suggest the Vailixi were first built around 18,000 BC by the Asvin.

Such fanciful concepts as anti-gravity appear to be included in the stories. "Astras" were the name of spacecraft supposedly bearing such anti-gravity means of propulsion. Secrets of invisibility ("antima") and easily adjusting the mass of an object ("garima") are also mentioned as being available. A journey to the Moon, and battle fought there with enemy craft, are also described.

-- Ancient India, including the section The "Vimanas" or Flying Machines of Ancient India By Mukul Sharma - The Times of India - April 8, 1999; ANCIENT AND LOST CIVILIZATIONS; CRYSTALINKS

There are ancient Sanskrit texts detailing the use of flying Vimanas utilizing something like beam weapons that were possibly based on reflective focusing of sunlight (Indra's Dart). Other weapons described include acoustically sensitive missiles (seekers of sound), and a projectile weapon which sounds surprisingly like a nuclear bomb (Iron Thunderbolt). Accurate descriptions of victims suffering radiation poisoning in the aftermath of the weapon's use are also found in the text.

Instructions for the assembly of Vimanas include an emphasis on strong but low weight materials...much as instructions for a 21st century airship would sound. Some Vimanas are said to have possessed the capacity to turn invisible.

Texts from other cultures, such as the Laws of the Babylonians and the Sifrala of Chaldea, seem to corroborate some elements of the knowledge of flight claimed in the Sanskrit texts.

-- VIMANA, From Srinivas Prasad, prasad@nsrc.nus.sg, 20 Mar 1997, found on or about January 3, 2000, citing ANCIENT VIMANA AIRCRAFT Contributed by John Burrows

Interpretations of lengthy ancient documents describing various aspects of the aircraft and how to use them will be available by 2000 AD.

There are so many curious but plausible details in the descriptions that a technologically proficient reader may be taken aback by the possibilities.

Though many interpreters of the text prefer to sensationalize the concepts as describing craft perhaps centuries beyond the capacities of early 21st century man to build, much of the information provided seems to relate the craft as being something much more likely and technically feasible instead.

For instance, many of the aircraft seemed to move not much faster than a normal day's wind-- a few miles per hour perhaps. Though some did possess a grand range-- up to thousands of miles. They were lightweight and fireproof, with all sorts of precautions taken to insure safety of pilots, crew, and passengers. They were large, some possessing a bulbous saucer shape, while others were cigar-shaped, or spherical. Sound familiar? It should. For virtually the same description could be applied to many airships of the 20th and 21st century. Lighter-than-air transports. Balloons. Blimps. Zeppelins. The large size was required for the lifting gas volumes involved. Extraordinary safety precautions would be necessary if the most efficient lifting gas of all-- hydrogen-- was used. Because hydrogen is extremely flammable.

The lightweight construction? Perhaps silk and bamboo, in part. Or even paper of some sort, for some jobs. Wax might have also been another useful component. Lightweight wind sails and rigging utilized in a way similar to that of water-borne sailing ships could be used to propel and manuever the vessel. Only perhaps being underneath the craft rather than atop it, due to weight and balance considerations. Of course, engine-driven propellors would be still more desirable, but not absolutely necessary. The texts deem altercations with birds important enough to list in the descriptions (note that even advanced 21st century jetcraft can sometimes crash due to nothing more than collisions with birds; balloons or dirigibles might be even more vulnerable, in some ways). Storms and lightning are also seen as threats to the vessels (again, even 21st century aircraft often do well to avoid weather-related threats-- and airships especially so).

The "anti-gravity" suggested by the texts likely refers to the seemingly magical way the lifting gases allowed the vessels to sail the winds just as boats sail the seas.

The airships could take off vertically and remain virtually motionless in one spot. Again, a suitably controlled airship could do both.

When not in flight the Vimanas were kept in special hangars ("Vimana Griha"), just like 20th century airships. Again, airships require protection from storms and high winds, both in flight and at mooring.

A liquid of "yellowish-white" color, or else a compound of mercury, is credited with being an essential fluid for at least some of the ancient aircraft-- perhaps some type of fuel. Could this substance have alternatively been some sort of oil or grease for fittings or bearings? Or even the wax to help the airship maintain airtightness?

It may be that not all the craft utilized hydrogen for lift. Some may have used simple hot air, warmed by a burner, much like 20th century hot air balloons. However, the reduced lifting power of hot air compared to hydrogen or helium would have cut the capacities and flexibilities of the airships, while also increasing their size. The mystery fluid may have been fuel for these burners. With careful design the same burner might have not only provided lift but some measure of directed propulsion as well. Such burners of course would have been much more dangerous on those Vimanas which used hydrogen for lift.

The texts go still further, to describe something akin to engines on at least some of the vessels. Often more than one. What sort of engines is unclear, though on the smaller personal craft they seem to be as noisy as small unmuffled 20th century internal combustion engines.

Such airships would have been very expensive and difficult to maintain vessels-- and a considerable undertaking for any people-- perhaps with the assembly of a small fleet of such craft being on par with construction projects like the Great Pyramids of Egypt. A wealthy empire indeed would have been the only entity of ancient times with the resources to do such a thing.

One reference however implies that there may have been one class of airship which was small and economical enough to be around in large numbers-- Pushpakas, or aerial chariots. These sound like aerial equivalents to personal automobiles. They seemed to be loud, bright, and possibly faster than the larger craft.

And what of the vast surveillance powers claimed for the vessels, in the ancient descriptions? These might primarily stem from the great heights the craft could achieve above the country-side. Of course, telescopes and mirrors mounted on the vehicle would increase such powers still more. Large sound-focusing trumpets could help in the sound gathering department. As for recording capacities, it may be a crewman selected for his photographic memory (or other special mental capacities or skills) might be placed onboard.

Stealth? Travel at night would make them usually invisible to peoples below. Even during full moons the vessels might not attract too much attention at high altitude. And at lower altitudes suitable camouflage of colors and shape could make them resemble a dark cloud. Some texts even describe some aircraft as being very dark or black. They also describe the craft being lighted-- at least in the daytime. Using lights during daylight on aircraft will be a common military trick during the 20th century to camouflage aircraft against the brightly lit sky.

Note that while lamps were invented around 70,000 BC, any open flames would have been very dangerous onboard a hydrogen-filled airship. Could the light described in daylight merely be reflectors? Such light sources would be much safer than open flames.

Likely the vessels would mostly have been open to the elements-- making it necessary for those onboard to be protected with special clothing and accessories. The internal climate control described was likely limited on most craft to the thermal management of the lifting gases and other resources necessary to ship operation. Using crewmen previously acclimated to living on mountaintops would help somewhat. There may have even been special monastery-type institutions for that, in the highest mountains.

Just how airworthy might ancient open air airship crews have been? Assuming little more than warm clothing and some time spent at high altitude retreats with which to prepare for high altitude work? Well, in one extreme case of exposure in 2000 AD, a 180 pound young man with what appeared to be little or no training or preparation survived in the wheelwell of a large jet airliner at 38,000 feet, 50 below zero temperatures (not including wind chill), and precious little oxygen, in a 600 mph, 4000 mile long voyage across the Pacific Ocean. Upon reaching a hospital after landing (with the help of rescuers), his body's core temperature was 79 degrees (below 85 is typically fatal). The wind shredded his clothes, but a coating of grease may have helped him retain some heat, apparently.

The man still possessed enough strength and consciousness upon arrival to physically resist those who found him.

After treatment for the ordeal the man seemed in reasonably good shape, though doctors were continuing to look for signs of brain and other organ damage due to oxygen deprivation at the time the article was written.

Keep in mind that, if anything, men of around 18,000 BC would likely be at least a bit tougher than men of 2000 AD, on average.

-- Stowaway survives 8-hour, subzero trip in jet's wheel well By Jeff Wilson, Union-Tribune Publishing Co./ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 5, 2000

AUTHOR'S NOTE: These monasteries and practices devoted to turning out airship crews acclimated to high altitudes could theoretically have survived the rising sea levels of the ending of the Ice Age, in some form. Unfortunately, such facilities would likely have been well hidden since their enemies could fly over them to find them. Ergo, the installations would likely have been subterranean where possible, with cave entrances high up on mountainsides. It may be that this need to acclimate crewmen to altitude was one reason for the secret construction hangars being placed in China rather than on the peninsula. Such high altitude refuges would also have been natural places to which to bring the stock of lowlands libraries endangered by rising seawaters. END NOTE.

The heat absorbing materials onboard the airships may have been devices designed to improve operative efficiency-- in ways perhaps similar to certain state-of-the-art balloons of the late 20th century. Solar energy? Naturally it would be used in the thermal management of the system, if possible.

The stunning and destructive weaponry? I suppose getting upwind of another vessel and releasing noxious gases might be one practical offensive measure-- though suitably prepared crew on the other craft might not be phased by it. The ability to focus a hot point of reflected sunlight onto such a craft would be very worrisome to those onboard the target. And the same gear used for surveillance-- telescopes and mirrors-- might be readily adapted to such a purpose. Weighted grappling hooks and lines could be projected onto such a enemy craft to damage their sails and rigging and perhaps loose their lifting gas, while also dragging them to the ground or at least making their maneuverability more sluggish. However, such weighted materials might have been more practical for ballistic deployment from the ground, in an early type of anti-aircraft artillery-- as extra weights for offensive purposes would be a large burden for an airship.

A stun-at-a-distance weapon though-- that's more of a toughie. Perhaps it could be acoustic. But then it might affect the friendly crew as much as the enemy-- unless the friendly crew had already been trained in its regard in the same mountaintop monastery. Plus, strategically inserted ear plugs might help too.

The weapon might be something along the lines of a great trumpet or horn. Or maybe a bellows outputting a very low frequency but effective sound.

If it wasn't acoustic, it might be simply something like a mechanically dropped projectile equipped with vanes or wings to help it be more accurate in impact. The dropper would have to be high above the victim and possibly upwind prior to release. The projectile might punch a large hole in the gas bag, causing a catastrophic descent. With a suitably shaped sound-maker it could even produce a terrifying sound via the passing air as it dropped.

Once again, the mirrors come into play. The enemy might be blinded by simply reflecting the sun onto them. Or the enemy could be forced to avoid looking directly at the reflecting vessel, giving that vessel a chance to perform some maneuvers or other actions without immediate responses from the enemy.

-- Ancient India, including the section The "Vimanas" or Flying Machines of Ancient India By Mukul Sharma - The Times of India - April 8, 1999; ANCIENT AND LOST CIVILIZATIONS; CRYSTALINKS

Could the yellowish-white liquid associated with the airships, and implicated as some sort of fuel in some texts, have been something to do with a combination power and lifting gas source based on algae? Perhaps even the sulfurous liquid removed to trigger the hydrogen production process?

Algae can be made to produce substantial quantities of hydrogen gas by way of photosynthesis. This breakthrough means valuable high quality and pollution-free fuel may be generated with a combination of water and sunlight. The process may require another 10 years or so of development to be made commercially viable however. By simply removing all sulfur from the algae's surroundings, the algae can be forced to begin using its internal stores of food in a different manner than normal-- thereby releasing hydrogen gas. The algae must periodically (every several days) be given a chance to recharge themselves with their normal metabolic processes, however.

-- Common algae can be valuable source of hydrogen fuel, 21 FEBRUARY 2000, EurekAlert! Contact: Kathleen Scalise kms@pa.urel.berkeley.edu 510-643-7741 University of California, Berkeley

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii algae makes use of the enzyme hydrogenase to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in a form of biological electrolysis. Properly maintained, the fuel producing algae appear capable to continue cycling through the hydrogen production process indefinitely. Despite its many theoretical advantages, hydrogen fuel does pose challenges in the area of safe storage, among other things.

-- Algae May Be 'Green' Fuel of Future - Experts Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, February 21, 2000

Cheap production and safe storage of hydrogen fuel is somewhat of a Holy Grail in energy circles. Now it appears common algae may offer half of what's required to reach the goal.

Algae's ancient capacities to switch from digesting carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to produce needed nutrients as well as waste oxygen, to subsisting off internal stores of carbohydrates, water, and sunlight to produce the same nutrients but output waste hydrogen might offer us some pointers for future technological breathing backups for soldiers, astronauts, and undersea workers. The algae uses the backup system wherever there is no sulfur or oxygen. This alternative breathing system is not shared with other plants in nature-- but scientists envision it being added via genetic engineering to higher plants perhaps. It would also be helpful if the process could be reworked to operate in normal atmospheric conditions (where oxygen is present) as well.

It may be 20 years or longer before hydrogen fuel serves as a major pillar of the world's energy usage. At present hydrogen must be made relatively expensively from natural gas.

-- Pond algae can be prompted to produce hydrogen on demand By PAUL RECER, February 21, 2000, Nando Media/Associated Press, http://www.nandotimes.com

Copper, iron, lead, and mercury are all listed as being used in the construction of the airships-- but obviously they couldn't have been used in great quantity. Of course, noting the extreme depth in prehistory of the period we're talking about, such metals would likely have been pretty rare and expensive, and thus even the use of minute amounts would be worth mentioning.

Mercury is associated with the engines in some texts, as well as an iron-based heater of some sort. It reads as if the mercury is stored in pressurized containers, then heated, in order to release its propulsive power. The sound seems to be loud (like thunder), and the acceleration impressive.

-- AR10: Could the Ancients Fly? by David Childress, Atlantis Rising; An Article In Issue Number 10 (Winter 97)

Note that any link with the region of China enhances the notion of silk and bamboo being used in the construction of the airships-- perhaps even as secret materials of obscure origins, thereby not being exactly recorded in the Indian texts.

The ancient Chinese were very inventive, often using only bamboo and silk for their constructions/creations, which included paper, fans, and kites. They also produced the art of origami, or paper folding, which can offer many ways by which to strengthen the structural integrity of lightweight paper objects, as well as beautify them. The Chinese used paper for windows, umbrellas, armor, and raincoats.

Note that the ancient Chinese interests in paper for reasons of origami, armor, fans, and kites would dovetail nicely with secret constructions of airships such as described previously above. And also help explain why perhaps the same airships reported in India might reappear centuries or millennia later in China itself.


-- Ancient Art of Origami Shapes High-Tech; ABC News

Ginger is a traditional Chinese remedy for nausea. It turns out to work especially well against the nausea of motion sickness, such as would benefit people traveling via boat-- or airship.

-- Ginger Reduces Motion Sickness, May 26, 2000, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines

Other relevant links to these subjects may include the Experimental Balloon and Airship Association.

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