Aviation Project - War Kites and S.F.Cody
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War Kites and S.F.Cody
 

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Samuel Franklin Cody

The American Samuel Franklin Cody was a pioneer of early aviation. As a boy he was born and raised in Texas. He spent his youth living the life of the cowboy, catching and training wild horses and buffalo hunting.
After spending some time gold prospecting and touring with a Wild West Show he decided to settle in England in 1890.

Samuel Cody is not to be confused with William Frederick Cody (1846-1917) , known as Buffalo Bill, born in Iowa. This Cody was an Army scout and pony express rider, he earned his nickname after killing 5000 buffalo in 18 months for a contract to supply the workers on the Kansas Pacific Railway with meat. From 1883 he toured with his Wild West Show.

Samuel Cody continued with his Wild West showmanship and toured the music halls of England performing his horse riding, lassoing and shooting skills but his real passion was flight and in particular kites. Cody's interests in kites began as a hobby but very soon Cody had designed, made and patented a man-lifting kite, which he demonstrated to the War office in 1901.

The complicated kite used a series of ropes and a winch to raise a man above the ground in a basket. The War office were interested in it's military application. In a military situation the passenger was equipped with a telescope, telephone, rifle and camera. Messages could be sent the cable to the observer and in return the observer could send messages down in a weighted bag. The bag simply slid down the cable.

In an attempt to really convince the War Office of the pulling power of his kite, Cody crossed the English Channel in 1903. He designed a collapsible boat, with a cork deck. The boat was pulled along by the kite and the boat dragged an anchor behind it, providing resistance to the kite, ensuring that the tether remained tight.

The War Office conducted experiments with Cody's war kite both at sea and on land between 1904 and 1905. A man was lifted 2,600 feet. The War office adopted the kite for army observation in 1906 and Cody was made Chief Kite instructor. The Cody War Kites were used for some years until the aeroplane replaced them. Cody eventually died in 1913 in a crash landing in one of his own inventions the Waterplane.

 

The image below shows a portrait of Cody with his War Kite. It is from a self-promotional poster, 1904. It is provided courtesy of the R.A.F. Museum.
The image below shows the Cody Kite lifting an observer in a basket. Courtesy of the R.A.F. Museum.