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Who was Samuel Franklin Cody?

Considering he was the first man in Britain to fly a powered aircraft and he did so as early as 1908, the same year as the Wright Brothers’ first public flight, it’s surprising that so few know the name of Samuel Cody.

Born in Iowa in 1867, Cody moved to England as a young man at a time when the most common form of transport was horse-drawn carriage. But Cody was streaks ahead. He was fascinated by kites and dreamed of a box kite large enough to lift a man. He built his dream and soon added wings. In 1907 he fitted a motor and presto! The Cody Flyer was born. Britain’s Army Aeroplane Number 1.

Cody’s contraption had no dials to measure speed or revs or even altitude. Oil and petrol were pumped into an 8 cylinder engine which had 2 settings: on and off. The ignition was a light switch that sent sparks that kept the engine running.

By 1910, Cody was carrying passengers and he founded the first air ambulance with capacity for 2 patients, a doctor, anaesthetist and nurse.

Samuel Franklin Cody was one of the greatest figures of early aviation; a man with vision and the courage to turn his vision into a reality.

Discover more at Farnborough Air Sciences Museum

Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6TF, United Kingdom


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