I once read the drones when Raj first appeared described as looking like an Indian wedding gift....
certainly Vimanis are probably the first work of science fiction ..its said...interesting that Indian characters of Kali vishnu are very prominent in the Amercan Arist Android Jones..in fact he incorp[orated a lot of the Caret art into his shows and wall papers..for Dell/Alienw
some Indialns lapped it up
..At the exact same time they appeared.Its a gimmicky way of interesting the Indian Markets in products, imo.
But I digress from your question.. I ran across this 19th Century Flying references
Shivkar Bapuji Talpade born in 1864, was a Sanskrit scholar. His birth place is Chirabazar at Dukkarwadi in Bombay. From his young age was attracted by the Vaimanika Shastra (Aeronautical Science) expounded by the great Indian sage Maharishi Bhardwaja.
One western scholar of Indology Stephen-Knapp has tried to explain what Talpade did. According to Knapp, the Vaimanika Shastra describes in detail, the construction of what is called, the mercury vortex engine the forerunner of the ion engines being made today.
Shivkur Bapuji Talpade’s unmanned aircraft flew to a height of 1500 feet before crashing down and the historian, Knapp adds that additional information on the mercury engines can be found in the ancient Vedic text called Samaranga Sutradhara. This text also devotes 230 verses, to the use of these machines in peace and war.
The Indologist William Clarendon, who has written down a detailed description of the mercury vortex engine in his translation of Samaranga Sutradhara quotes thus,
‘Inside the circular air frame, place the mercury-engine with its solar mercury boiler at the aircraft center. By means of the power latent in the heated mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion a man sitting inside may travel a great distance in a most marvelous manner.
Four strong mercury containers must be built into the interior structure. When these have been heated by fire through solar or other sources the vimana (aircraft) develops thunder-power through the mercury. It is also added that this success of an Indian scientist was not liked by the Imperial rulers.
Warned by the British Government the Maharaja of Baroda stopped helping Talpade. His efforts to make known the greatness of Vedic Shastras was recognized by Indian scholars, who gave him the title of Vidya Prakash Pra-deep.
Suddenly..the haze just lifted..everything became crystal clear