AI, Open Finance and Airmail

Dateline: Woking, 6h July 2023.You’ve probably never heard of the Aerial Transit Company, but it should be a standard business school case study in my opinion. The company’s directors — John Stringfellow, William Samuel Henson and Frederick Marriott — took a proposal to the British Parliament to launch the country’s first airline. Their proposal was to fly to Egypt, China and India and they had a business plan built around air mail services. But the short-sighted politicians turned them down, because the company did not have any airports or runways, pilots — or for that matter aeroplanes, because it was 1843 and they had not been invented yet.Subscribe nowPraise The TinkerersWhy were these steampunk heroes trying to get permission to run an airline before there were any planes? Well, Stringfellow has been experimenting with balloons for many years before he began working with Henson to build an aircraft. In 1848 he achieved immortality by flying a steam-powered unmanned proto-drone the length of a local mill, which is why the English town of Chard is celebrated worldwide as the birthplace of powered flight. Astonishingly, there is actually a photograph of their proto-drone in flight and here it is:(Yes, Kitty Hawk was the birthplace of manned flight, but the Wright brothers didn’t get it together until 1903 and anyway, after Stringfellow’s revolutionary invention, was it so much of a big deal to put a man on board?)It is fascinating to me that Henson and Stringfellow went to Parliament some five years before…AI, Open Finance and Airmail