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
After spending some time gold prospecting and touring with a Wild
West Show he decided to settle in England in 1890.
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.
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
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
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.
image below shows the Cody Kite lifting an observer in a
basket. Courtesy of the R.A.F. Museum.