Francesco Lana de Terzi (1631-1687) was an Italian Jesuit, mathematician and inventor. He is most known today as a pioneer of aeronautics, something shown in this illustration from his book describing his own scientific inventions.
The image shows a ship that could fly into the air held up by four large empty spheres made of thin copper. Lana Terzi drew on the recently invented vacuum pump of Boyle (1660) and on the experiment on atmospheric pressure done at Magdeburg in 1656, which showed that it would take two teams of eight horses to pull apart an evacuated sphere. As the empty spheres would be lighter than atmospheric air, a ship having big enough spheres would be able to fly and move into the air by means of sails and steer. Lana Terzi clearly demonstrated the mathematical soundness of his idea, but did not build the ship, allegedly for lack of sufficient funds. In fact, it was later shown that for the spheres to resist atmospheric pressure the copper layer would have to be thicker than originally thought, so that the spheres could not be lighter than the air. With more recent technological developments, lighter metals could be used that would make Lana Terzi’s flying ship viable.Sources