Alternative History

Piteris Erelis landing his aeroplane after crossing the Oresund in May 2018

An Aeroplane is a heavier-than-air flying vehicle, typically with one or two fixed wings and powered by a small petrol-driven engine.

Heavier than air flight has long been a dream for mankind and though it has been a serious area of study for centuries the breakthrough has only come recently. Flight with lighter-than-air balloons and airships came much earlier and indeed many scientists believed heavier-than-air flight was impossible. Gliders were being successfully flown by 1960 though around the same time powered flight was often stymied by attempts to recreate the motion of birds' wings. True flight with a fixed-wing required a powerful but lightweight petrol or Grøndahl motor which would not be available until the 21st century.

Jónína Eyþórsdottír preparing a training biplane, photograph October 2018

The first recognised powered heavier-than-air flight took place on 21st February 2013, on an island to the east of Roanoke, Dasamongueponkland. Four engineering students from Yrsakavelyk University in Álengiamark: Tryggvi Adamsson (of Kristjanaborg, Álengiamark), Christian Rasmus Kjellerup (of Dasamongueponkland), Hilmar Steinarsson (of Sjóvath, Álengiamark) and Jónína Eyþórsdottír (also of Kristjanaborg, Álengiamark) tested and flew their design 'Dúfa' over a week of trials. The aeroplane was launched from a catapult and flew under its own power at least 12 times of varying lengths.

On the final day of trials a photographer and reporter finally arrived from Yrsakavelyk and documented two successful, and one failed, flights. Adamsson and Kjellerup were subsequently employed by the Álengsk army to develop their machine under the aegis of the military. Steinarsson and Eyþórsdottír, their contributions not deemed vital, were allowed to continue publicly showing their machine and subsequent improvements to it.

Master aviator and inventor Piteris Erelis

This initial success beat various other teams around the world by a matter of weeks. In Tamoioland in March, Tibiric Iperoig finally flew his 'Irundi', from a standing start after several months of unsuccessful attempts. On 1st April Piteris Erelis of Prussia flew his machine around a field for 10 minutes before crashing it and miraculously walking away unscathed.

The public were immediately gripped by 'Aeroplane Fever' as crowds flocked to see the new machines being tested and flown over increasing distances and in ever increasing numbers. 'Air Races' directly pitting rival engineers' models against each other are popular too, as are films depicting romance, intrigue, sabotage and skullduggery behind the scenes of these shows. Many newspapers have put up big rewards for certain achievements; Piteris Erelis received 20,000kr for crossing the Oresund in May 2018. As of November 2020 there have been 3 failed attempts to cross the Wessex Channel.

Anglian aviator Heike Gofton

However this break-neck pace of innovation coupled with very public displays of untested machinery has led to occasional disaster. Several aviators have died testing their contraptions and at Croydon (Wessex) in 2019 six people died when a 'plane dove into the crowd.

Most European and Leifian nations now issue some kind of 'flying license' to trained aviators. Many nations are exploring a military role for aeroplanes, most likely as a reconnaissance tool, as they are more maneuverable than airships though currently cannot carry the same payload so are less useful for potential bombing or anti-submarine missions.