Heavier-than-Air Flight Is Proven Impossible
People have been building flying machines ever since Leonardo Da Vinci's helicopter leapt skyward, and plummeted earthward. Professor Langley had charts and graphs proving that a 1 horsepower steam engine strapped to a fuselage of his design could do it. He had several small-scale models powered by rubber bands to demonstrate. Professor Samuel Langley is the director of the Smithsonian Institution, and if he can't get the job done, no one can. A few years ago, the government funded his project to build a full-scale flying machine... presumably to be used as a war machine... but he can't make it work. He is so frustrated that he actually builds a full-scale model powered with a rubber band! (It must have been a VERY BIG rubber band!) His most spectacular failure is a contraption that looks like two butterflies crashing head-on. After it sinks into the Potomac, the press ridicules him mercilessly. Professor Langley gives up. God has reserved flight for the birds. But we know what the problem is. The Professor needs a more efficient engine... a gasoline-powered engine, but the best engines are under development in Germany (if you want to call those explosions going someplace to happen, "engines"). The Professor's dream has come too soon. That is how two high school drop outs (Orville and Wilbur Wright) will become the first to build a real flying machine. They are born into a generation when all the pieces needed for success will come together.        
Food Storage: A Birdseye View
Clarence Frank Birdseye the 2nd is born in Brooklyn, New York this year. That is his real name. As the story goes, an English page shot a bird on the wing with an arrow right through its eye. The Queen witnessed this marvel and named the young man "Birdseye" which became the family name. There is no evidence to support this bit of hokum WHATSOEVER, but the family is sticking to it. At ten years old Clarence will trap muskrats and sell them to an aristocrat in England to earn money to buy a shotgun. He will hunt and preserve his own food. While ice-fishing he will conceive of the idea of flash-freezing food. But his contributions to society will be greater than inventing a machine that can flash freeze 800 pounds of peas in an hour. Quite honestly, people didn't want to eat frozen foods because the food turned to mush when defrosted and it tasted terrible. He invented an entire industry of frozen foods. He held hundreds of patents on things like a modified harpoon, an automatic fishing reel, the frosted light bulb, and the infrared bulb that he will use for dehydrating foods.  
Journey to the Center of the Earth... in a Balloon
The current belief is that the Earth is hollow with an opening at the North Pole. This idea was made popular by Jules Verne in his novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The idea has been kicking around for a long time, but this is the age of heroes. In the modern day these heroes would be certified as insane, but in 1896, they are just one more exploration team seeking the North Pole for fame and glory. S.A. Andree is a Swedish explorer with a grand idea. He will fly to the North Pole in a balloon! OK. I know what you are thinking, but the answer is no. He is not a moron. He is just overly-enthusiastic, and he knows all about flying balloons. After all, he has been a passenger a balloon several times. How hard could it be? When asked how he will control the direction the balloon takes, he replies that he has worked out a system of dragging weights across the ice. He figures that he will cross the North Pole, drop a message buoy and keep on going. Maybe he will land in Russia. As his balloon disappears over the horizon, his fellows wonder if they will ever see the expedition again. 
In Other News
- The campaign to establish a Jewish Homeland begins. It is a secular movement begun by a Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl. 
- Phillip Sousa composes the Stars and Stripes Forever march. It will remain a popular patriotic march into the modern day.
This Year in Wikipedia
Year 1806, Wikipedia.
- Samuel Pierpont Langley: Aviation Work - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
- History of the Internal Combustion Engine: 1860-1920 - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
- Langley, S. P.. Experiments in Aerodynamics. The Smithsonian Institution.
- Aerospaceweb.org - Ask Us - Samuel P. Langley. aerospaceweb.org (2016). Retrieved on 26 October 2016. “By this point, Langley was now secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, where he began a new series of experiments with small powered models. These models allowed Langley to test nearly 100 different aircraft configurations, but he eventually gave up this effort after learning little from the frail, breakable models. He then pursued a new and more sophisticated approach using steam-powered sub-scale flying machines that he called 'aerodromes' (from the Greek aerodromoi, or 'air runner'). Seven different aerodrome designs, numbered 0 to 6, were constructed, and Aerodrome no. 5 proved to be the most successful. Weighing in at 26 lb, the design featured twin tandem wings with highly cambered airfoils and two propellers driven by a 1-hp steam engine.”
- Science and inventions of Leonardo da Vinci: Flight - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 January 2015.
- Leonardo Da Vinci flying machine! The Flight of Genius!. leonardo-da-vinci-biography.com (2014). Retrieved on 9 January 2015. “1496, 3rd of January: An entry made in one of the Leonardo's notebooks stated that he had unsuccessfully conducted a flight test. This tells us an interesting point about the great inventor. Leonardo may have produced and tested more of his designs than we realise.”
- Da Vinci unsuccessfully tests a flying machine, January 3, 1496 - EDN. edn.com (January 3, 2015). Retrieved on 9 January 2015. “Unsuccessful designs were not common for the engineer. While many of his engineering designs languished in his notebook as their builds were impossible in da Vinci's lifetime, including a calculator, he did manage to build a flying machine resembling a helicopter (see drawing from the inventor's notebook below).”
- Alex Shrugged notes: Some of the material I've used here is adapted from a posting I made on the Survival Podcast web site. Here is a link to the posting: [Episode-1431- Listener Feedback for 9-22-14].
- Kurlansky, Mark. Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man. New York:Doubleday. May 2012. (BOOK)
- Clarence Birdseye - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
- Alex Shrugged notes: I am drawing heavily from Mark Kurlansky's book "Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man".
- Wilkinson, Alec. Ice Balloon: S. A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration, The. Alfred A. Knopf.
- Alex Shrugged notes: I'm a little light on references right now. I updated my web browser and now the normal tools I use for documentation are not working. I borrow heavily from the book I recently read, "The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration" by Alec Wilkinson. I recommend it.
- Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 450-451.
- Sowell, Thomas. Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465081387.