Lots of pics at link.
Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, a pioneering photographer who had created his own panoramic lens put together what could be described as the world’s first drone.
With this innovative creation he captured incredible images of American cities from thousands of feet in the air.
George R. Lawrence used a system of kites outfitted with a 49-pound camera to show a bird’s-eye view of San Francisco, Chicago and New York City – among other cities and towns – in a way that they had never been seen before.
He called his invention the Lawrence Captive Airship.
However, during Lawrence’s first attempt at aerial photography his balloon snapped free from the platform carrying him. He fell more than 200 feet to the ground but was miraculously unhurt as the fall was interrupted by some wire.
This near miss with death prompted him to find a new method to take photos from the skies: He created an incredible drone-like camera by using 17 Conyne kites, strung together by piano wire, to hoist his massive contraption into the air.