I have always found it amusing to discover articles–particularly those with photos or illustrations –on “flying machines ” from before the Wright brothers. In hindsight most of the contraptions are comical yet provide fun reading.
Here is one headed “A New Flying Machine That Flies” which appeared in “The Illustrated American” from New York, Sept. 9, 1898. It apparently was collapsible (to fit in garages?) and could be unfolded to look much like an overgrown bat with propellers. The article notes that: “…There are a large number of details that the inventor has kept strictly to himself…”, the biggest likely that it didn’t fly.
But the article closes with a very prophetic note: “…it has a military side. It is impossible to imagine without terror the day when these mechanical birds, these flying apparitions, will be able to rain upon armies, hostile towns & escalating parties most deadly and most destructive explosives…”.