Charles A. A. Dellschau: Aeronautical Notebooks
Introduction by Lauren Redniss
41 color plates, $25
Charles Dellschau was a butcher by trade who, after his retirement in 1899, filled at least 13 notebooks with drawings, watercolor paintings and collages depicting fantastical airships. He lived and worked in an attic apartment in Houston, Texas. Dellschau’s earliest known work is a diary dated 1899, and the latest is an 80-page book dated 1921-1922, giving his career as an artist a 21-year span. His work was in large part a record of the activities of the Sonora Aero Club, of which he was a purported member. Dellschau’s writings describe the club as a secret group of flight enthusiasts who met at Sonora, California in the mid-19th century. According to Dellschau, one of the members had discovered the formula for an anti-gravity fuel he called “NB Gas.” Their mission was to design and build the first navigable aircraft using the NB Gas for lift and propulsion. Dellschau called his flying machines Aeros. Dellschau did not claim to pilot of any of the airships, but identified himself as a draftsman for the Sonora Aero Club. His collages incorporate newspaper clippings (called “press blooms”) of then-current news articles about aeronautical advances and disasters.