Charles Dellschau: Anti-gravity fuel and the adventures of the Sonora Aero Club

Fascinating piece from Obelisk Art History about the life of Charles Dellschau, specifically his years spent as scribe for the Sonora Aero Club. Dellschau’s drawings themselves are beautiful, the use of the color red is especially arresting.

But more than 40 years laters, a junk dealer uncovers 12 ragged notebooks, bound with shoelaces, from a trash heap outside of the Dellschau family home. The notebooks change hands, sold to a furniture dealer, then finally the art history student Mary Jane Victor.

The 12 notebooks were created by Charles Dellschau between 1908 and 1921, and document the invention of an anti-gravity fuel called NB Gas by a secret society of aviators known as the Sonora Aero Club. Containing more than 2,500 drawings of flying machines, the diaries piece together newspaper clippings, diagrams and coded language.

Dellschau’s notebooks recount his time living in a boardingding house from 1854 to 1859, when his neighbors included members of the Sonora Aero Club. The club appointed Dellschau as their scribe, and he narrates the group’s activities in extraordinary detail — describing many members by name. Peter Mennis, who’s “Aero Goosey” was among the group’s most successful crafts, Tosh Wilson, Louis Caro, and Jacob Mischer — who’s plan to sell the plans for his airship ended in the sabotage and fiery crash of his own craft.

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