In ancient and medieval Asia and especially the Middle East, are stories of carpets that magically fly through the air, especially very high in the sky, while allowing people, who sit down in the center, to ride these carpets. The most famous tale on such supernatural carpets is probably the one contained in the writings known as the “One Thousand and One Nights“; a collection of Middle Eastern legendary stories compiled in Arabic during the era of the 8th century to the 13th century AD. This huge literary collection is often known in English as “The Arabian Nights”. The wondrous carpet tale tells how a Prince Husain, the eldest son of the sultan of the Indies, journeyed to Bisnagar (Vijayanagara) in India, and then purchased a “magical” carpet.
In ancient lore, the famous Jewish King Solomon allegedly owned a huge flying carpet that allowed him to travel to Damascus, Syria for breakfast and then to Media, Saudi Arabia.
There are stories of other people, in different nations, of various time periods, owning flying carpets and awesome travelling thereupon them.
We know that there are no magical flying carpets, and there mention in many centuries old stories provided a source of entertainment for readers of fantasy, whether or not such readers knew they were reading fantasy.
The idea where miraculously flying carpets came might just be a complete mystery. In Asia and the Middle East there are carpet dealers who buy and sell carpets. Oriental and Middle Eastern carpets are the most preferred carpets in the world and have been so for many, many centuries. Such dealers would have indoor showrooms, but on nice, warm weather days there are carpet vendors who sell their fabric merchandise outdoors at stalls or on lots. At times any carpets laid out on the ground or on racks would have been highly exposed to the weather. Sometimes, there are very strong wind storms that can develop, under certain weather very quickly with little warning. If such very strong winds are present, as in a hurricane or a tornado, carpets would get lifted up and then sail high into the air, long before the vendors would have the time to move them to safety.
Some people most probably theorized, erroneously, that if someone sat down in the middle of a large carpet, that such a huge wind storm (hurricane or tornado) would propel them through the sky. Actually, what these people did not know is such a tremendous wind storm would not only cast away the carpet, but also any riders that were trying to firmly hold their place on the carpet would get fiercely blown off. Even a vendor who grabbed tightly with both hands a square corner of the carpet would not be able at all to hold on.
Furthermore, there had to be unscrupulous carpet sellers, who would travel about from town to town; travelling salesmen who would sell gullible, superstitious, simple-minded people so-called magical flying carpets that were, of course, fraudulent. Such buyers would be people who believed in the existence of flying (magical) carpets and would ask the carpet vendor if he had such carpets for sale.
Modern physics suggest it would be possible to create a flying carpet. Levitation could be achieved if the carpet could vibrate by making ripples that push down towards a horizontal surface such as the ground. The rapid movements could create a high pressure area, somewhat like the wing of an airplane causing the carpet to float short distances above the floor. The ripples could actually make the carpet move forward too, using the same principles.
One study cites that a sheet of material a few inches long and one tenth of a millimeter would need to vibrate at speed of ten times per second with a an amplitude of 0.25 millimeters, to create a hovering effect. To fly a man upon the same process would not be quite practical, without a tremendous amount of energy required, so the idea as for now is best left to one’s imagination.
In 1968, the USA-Canadian hard rock band called Steppenwolf released a song entitled “Magic Carpet Ride” that quickly became a huge hit for the musical singing band.