Samuel Franklin Cody

The first man to fly a controlled, powered, heavier-than-air craft in Great Britain, Cody was a flamboyant and successful showman who used his wealth and fame to become Great Britain’s most famous aeronaut. His patent, in 1901, of a man-lifting kite system led to military contracts and put him at the birthplace of British aviation, Farnborough. Here he made and flew dirigibles (the Nulli Secundis 1), gliders (the glider-kite could go up as a kite and then change to a glider in mid air), man-lifting kites, a motor-kite, and finally British Army Aeroplane #1.

On October 16, 1908, Cody flew almost 1400 feet in his Army Airplane. He then went on to win the first Michelin Cup for the longest flight around a closed course (done by the end of 1909). He would win two more Michelin Cups and would finally win the Army Trials of 1912 with his Cody V airplane. He died in an aircraft crash on August 7, 1913.

Kite fliers and makers have been enamored with the graceful design of Cody’s War Kite, but recent study of many other Cody kite designs sold by Sotheby’s in 1996, have raised new questions about their intended purposes and flight characteristics.