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Cody, Samuel F.


Born in Iowa, USA, in 1867 as Samuel Franklin Cowdery, he took on the name Cody to take advantage of the success of William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody of'Wild West' fame. S F. Cody arrived in the UK in 1889 and set up a touring show. Part of the many 'acts' within this travelling 'circus' was the flying of substantial kites. Cody became fascinated by flight and developed his own cellular (or box) kites and in November 1902 patented his man-lifting design. The UK military became very interested in these devices as an observation system that was than cheaper and more efficient than balloons.

From 1906, Cody was appointed Chief Kite Instructor to the Balloon Factory at Farnborough, Hampshire. As well as kites, he assisted in the construction of the airship Nulli Secundus (Second to None) which first flew in September 1907, powered by a 50hp (37kW) Antoinette V8.

In 1908, Cody turned his attention to building a heavier-than-air flying machine inspired by the Wright Brothers' designs. Fitted with the same Antoinette that had powered the airship, his British Army Aeroplane No.1 took to the air for the first time on October 16,1908, and put Cody into the history books. He became a British subject in October 1909.

He built another biplane in 1910 in which he took the Michelin Prize with a flight of 185 miles (297km) in a closed-circuit. He gained Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No.9 on June 7,1910.

Cody developed his Circuit of Britain Biplane in 1911, entering it for the Daily Mail 1,010-mile contest of the same name. He came fourth in that and won two Michelin Cups for close-circuit flying, becoming well known for flying passengers.

In 1912, he flew a short-lived tractor monoplane, which was destroyed in a collision with a cow that July. The same year saw the birth of the Military Trials Biplanes, which resulted in a pair being ordered for service with the Royal Flying Corps. (The second of these biplanes, No.304, was presented to the Science Museum in November 1913 and is today displayed at South Kensington, London.)

His final design was the large (even by Cody's standards) Hydro-Biplane designed to enter the coastal Daily Mail Circuit of Britain of 1913. Cody and his passenger W H B Evans were killed in this machine, in landplane form, on August 7,1913. Pioneer Cody had become the 32nd British pilot fatality.



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