Is This the First Miyazaki Flying Machine?
This airplane makes its appearance during the closing credits of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Toei Doga's feature film from 1971. There's really no doubt who conceived it; even the most casual fan of Hayao Miyazaki knows of his love of flying machines.
Is this the first flying machine to appear in a Miyazaki anime? I think so. The previous films in which he played a key creative role - Horus, Prince of the Sun; Puss in Boots; Animal Treasure Island - had no flying scenes, unless you count that scene where Horus is kidnapped by a giant bird and dropped off a mountain. His early comics during the Toei period - newspaper comics adaptations of Puss in Boots and Animal Treasure Island; the epic drama People of the Desert - likewise included no flying.
Miyazaki's passion for vintage aircraft would emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, with Lupin the 3rd, Future Boy Conan and Sherlock Hound, and his many short-form comics for magazines like Model Grafix. And, of course, there is Nausicaa and Studio Ghibli.
It's fascinating to see such a crucial element to Hayao Miyazaki's art emerge in 1971, when he was 30 years old. He was already a veteran of the business, but he was still just barely beginning.