Episode Description

“Hoots and derision—which did not worry me at all,” Lilian Bland wrote, describing her visit to an air show in Blackpool, England, in 1909. She’d been telling everyone there that she intended to build and fly her own airplane. They were unimpressed. Bland was undeterred. She built a DIY plane of bamboo, wood and fabric, with a bicycle handlebar for steering and an engine she carried from England back to her home in Ireland. But would the Mayfly, as she called it, fly?

Mayfly Drawing 17th December 1910 'Flight mag'

Lilian Bland and Mayfly
Lilian Bland
Lilian Bland


  • Katherine LaGrave, deputy editor at AFAR media
  • Dan Bubb, aviation historian and associate professor in residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Paul Walsh, professor of aerospace engineering and director of the Centre for Advancing Engineering Research and Innovation in Aerospace Science at Toronto Metropolitan University. A big thank you to Professor Walsh for taking the time to answer our many questions about the science of flight in our interview and in follow-up emails.


  • Katie Hafner


Johanna Mayer

Johanna Mayer is a writer, producer, and sometimes-host working in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared on Science Friday, The Atlas Obscura Podcast, and The Sporkful, among other outlets.


Elah Feder 

Elah is a journalist, audio producer, and editor. Her work has appeared on Science Friday, Undiscovered, Science Diction, Planet Money, and various CBC shows. She has a masters from the University of Toronto, where she studied evolutionary biology, and later completed a masters at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.


  • Art design: Keren Mevorach
  • Picture credit: lilianbland.ie


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