The Paper Age &
Ancient Flight

22:00 minutes, 1993. Produced, written, & directed by Neal Livingston.
Available on DVD.

Hot air balloons that are over three thousand years old? Diagrams of ancient airplanes and flight suits hidden in the design of jewelry, carved on the sides of pyramids, or even woven into rug patterns? Is it possible that what were commonly believed to be temples and palaces to the gods, could in reality be ancient airports and aircraft factories?

Absurd, crackpot notions to most of us, but not to William Deiches, an amateur Egyptologist living in Brentwood, a suburb of London. In the early 1980's he reassembled a piece of winged jewelry from the tomb of Tutankhamun into a hand glider. Three hundred scale models later, (with recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records, Who's Who in the World, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise) Deiches is convinced beyond any question of a doubt that the ancients had an elaborate system of aircraft and hand gliders. The technology was originally developed in ancient Egypt and from there made it's way to Turkey, India, China, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia linking all ancient cultures.

As you watch Deiches cut and paste his model aircraft from ancient designs you began to wonder. The designs seem to have some logic to them, even if few of them actually ever become air borne (Maybe a full size model would really fly if dropped off the side of a pyramid?). There are certainly numerous references to flight in ancient Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, and Babylonian writings. Could this all be part of a technological age where papyrus was the primary element? A great "Paper Age" which ranks in importance with the Bronze or Iron Ages? Did this "Age" only come to an end after the depleting of the papyrus resources and the increasing popularity of the more down-to-earth wheel?

In the end, The Paper Age And Ancient Flight is not about either validating or the ridiculing of Deiches' theories. It deliberately presents no conclusion. Instead it is a portrait of one man's own personal quest to make the academic establishment reconsider its assessment of the ancients. Yes it is certainly amusing to imagine Mayan air fields, but they also laughed at Galileo once too.

"One likely looking oddball is Neal Livingston's The Paper Age and Ancient Flight, a 22-minute documentary interview with eccentric Britisher William Deiches, who expounds his theory that ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Tibetans and Incas few around in giant paper airplanes and left 'diagrams' of their planes in jewelry, paintings, and even carpet designs. Livingston's approach is entirely deadpan; if Deiches' theories weren't quite so loony, you could end up believing that everything happened just the way he says it did."
         - J. J. Kirchhoff, The Globe & Mail, September 16, 1992

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