M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
Samuel Franklin Cody's single-seat biplane glider was built at Farnborough during 1905. In its original form, narrow-chord diamond-shaped ailerons were mounted on slim fins below the leading-edges of the lower wings. They functioned also as elevators, but were supplemented later by an elevator at the rear of the aircraft. Several pilots made successful glides with the machine at Farnborough and at the Crystal Palace. Span, 51 ft. Wing area, 807 sq. ft. Weight empty, 116 lb.
Cody Powered Kite
After the experiments with his glider of 1905, S. F. Cody's next step towards powered flight was the fitting in 1907 of a 15 h.p. Buchet engine to one of his man-lifting kites. Stabilizing surfaces were added in front of and behind the main planes, together with a wheeled undercarriage. Free pilotless flights of up to 4.5 mins. duration were accomplished over Farnborough Common.
P.Hare Royal Aircraft Factory (Putnam)
The Balloon Factory's work continued as best it could during the upheaval of moving and, in June 1904, extensive tests were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a new system of man-lifting kites which had been developed by an expatriate American showman named Samuel Franklin Cody. This system used a number of biplane box kites, flown on a common cable with a smaller pilot kite to steady the line, and a huge carrier kite, equipped with a balloon basket or bosun's chair, which could ascend the cable under the control of its occupant.
Cody's kite system proved far superior to anything previously tried, and observers were lifted to altitudes greater than 1,000ft on several occasions during the trials, without the dangerous instability in gusty conditions which had marred previous systems. Because the kites became effective at similar wind velocities to those at which balloons became unstable, the system was recommended for adoption by the British Army. Cody, who was a Texan by birth, and who had variously been a cowboy, a prospector, a horse-dealer, a showman, an actor and a playwright, was engaged to instruct Balloon School personnel in their operation. He was initially engaged for three months only, but his contract was repeatedly renewed until, finally, in April 1906, he was appointed 'Chief Kite Instructor' at a salary and status approximately equivalent to that of a British Army colonel.
In the autumn of 1904 Col Capper, accompanied by his wife, Edith, visited the St Louis World's Fair, which was held to celebrate the centenary of the 'Louisiana Purchase' which had brought the region within the United States of America. He went as the representative of the War Office, intending to study the many aeronautical exhibits on display, but found these to be something of a disappointment, as did the organisers. His long journey was far from wasted, however, as he made calls upon a number of individuals who had made significant contributions to aviation. These included Octave Chanute, the author of Progress in Flying Machines; Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley of the Smithsonian Institution; and the Wright brothers, who had already made the first powered aeroplane flights. As a result of the last of these visits, which was made entirely upon his own initiative, Capper included in his report to the War Office a recommendation that Britain should seek to purchase an aeroplane from the Wrights. This recommendation was accepted, and negotiations were duly opened by a sporadic exchange of correspondence, but initially the Wrights did not regard their aeroplane as being sufficiently developed to be sold. Later negotiations were to become bogged down in bureaucracy and hampered by misunderstanding and un-seized opportunities on both sides. Finally, Capper, for reasons which will become apparent, came to believe that British interests would be better served by the development of an indigenous aeroplane, specifically designed to fulfil the requirements of military scouting.
During the summer of 1905, while Col Templer's attention was still largely focussed upon the move to Farnborough and the construction of the airship hangar, S F Cody, whose restless mind was always seeking a new challenge and who was already working towards manned flight, designed a biplane 'glider-kite' which had a wingspan of over fifty feet and an empty weight of only 116lb. This was built at the new Farnborough factory and was tested, with the assistance of personnel from the Balloon Sections, by flying it up to the desired altitude - usually around 100ft - in the normal kite manner, and then releasing it to return to earth as a glider, its pilot occupying a prone position on the lower wing. This craft, which had numerous triangular fin surfaces above the upper wing and below the lower wing, was equipped with small winglet ailerons for lateral control, one of the earliest recorded uses of this form of control. The inclusion of these ailerons, together with the adoption of the prone pilot position introduced by the Wrights, demonstrated Cody's awareness of general aeronautical development and his willingness to learn from others.
Numerous glides were made across the clear expanse of Farnborough Common, including several in which the craft travelled in excess of 700ft. The trials ended when a sudden gust of wind caused a sideslip and the pilot, Cody's younger son, Vivian, was badly injured in the resulting crash, although he eventually made a complete recovery and continued to work at Farnborough until his retirement in the 1950s. The glider was not repaired, most probably because it was felt that the experiment had by then served its purpose. Cody was already planning another experiment.