Centenary of the first powered flight in Britain by SF Cody

American-born kite developer and aviator Samuel Franklin Cody, built the British Army Aeroplane No.1 in 1908 and with it, on this day (16 October) 100 years ago Cody performed the first powered flight in Britain. The flight lasted only 27 seconds and it crashed on landing.

Unfortunately Flight’s archives began in 1909 but Flight is marking this centenary by picking out some notable entries of the great man in our 210,000 page pdf archive. And we have a picture of the man himself on our Image of the Day Blog.


The Cody Flyer otherwise known as the British Army Flyer machine was the result of a commission from the government.

Cody was on the front cover of Flight on 4 September 1909 in his Flyer. Happy up in the air, the caption reads: “In order to demonstrate the easy control of his flyer, Mr. Cody at times throws his hands up over his head,” presumably saying: ”look Mum, no hands”. 


Mr. Cody opened the proceedings on the second day of Doncaster Flying Week, but as flight reported, he was unfortunate.

We wrote: “After flying down the course, he was returning along the ground when the front wheel sank in a hole which had been filled in with soft sand–described by Cody as a veritable “deathtrap”–and the sudden stop caused the machine to tip over on to its elevating gear.

“With good luck, Mr. Cody was thrown clear of his machine, and so he sustained nothing worse than the re-opening of the old wound on his forehead, the result of his sudden descent on Laffan’s Plain a week or so ago.”

Take a look at the fantastic picture of the upturned aircraft.

In 1910 he won the Michelin Cup for the first completed flight of over 4.5hrs hours.

He was killed in an air crash in August 1913. Here’s his obituary.

Cody’s legacy is remembered with a working replica of the British Army Aircraft Number 1A, which was assembled by a team of more than 50 from the Farnborough Air Science Trust Museum.

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5 Responses to Centenary of the first powered flight in Britain by SF Cody

  1. William Peters 16 October, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    What?! What happen to the Wright Brothers and the 1903 powered flight???

  2. Barbara Cockburn 16 October, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    Yes, you’re quite right. My blog is about the first powered flight in the UK. I ought to have made that more clear.

  3. artur bove 17 October, 2008 at 8:36 am #

    I found it very, very interesting that in all this articles about 100 years of first flight Alberto Santos Dumont, that made the first flight, without external help (catapult-like) is never mentioned.

    Not to not give merits to the Americans but with a catapult-like device (like the American brothers used), ANYTHING CAN FLY!

    To learn a little more about the 100 of first flight, please read this extract :

    “Alberto Santos-Dumont (July 20, 1873 – July 23, 1932) was an early pioneer of aviation. He was born and died in Brazil. He spent most of his adult life in France. His contributions to aviation took place while he was living in Paris, France.

    Santos-Dumont designed, built, and flew the first practical dirigible balloons. In doing so he became the first person to demonstrate that routine, controlled flight was possible. This “conquest of the air”, in particular winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize on October 19, 1900 on a flight that rounded the Eiffel Tower, made him one of the most famous people in the world during the early 20th century. In addition to his pioneering work in airships, Santos-Dumont made the first public European flight of an airplane in Paris on October 23, 1906. Designated 14-bis or Oiseau de proie (French for “bird of prey”), the flying machine was the first fixed-wing aircraft officially witnessed to take off, fly, and land. Considerable controversy still exists about similar claims of first flight. For his achievements, Santos-Dumont is known in Brazil as “The Father of Aviation”.”

  4. WILLIAM CODY 3 January, 2009 at 9:26 am #


  5. Zee 19 June, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    Unfortunately, like many things in US are not very clear. I lived in Paris for many years and over there Santos Dumont it is the Father of Aviation. He was a brazilian who really flight with the first time. His aircraft really took off and landed without a spoon. Sorry, when I was in Paris in 2006 was a Centenary of the first fly. And wasn’t the brothers was this Brazilian guy named Santos Dumont. I tryed learn everthing I could about and I was embarassed about, because the brothers did many things in “secret”. And than when they have a invitation to show in Europa they didn’t accept.I lived there because my dad was transfer to work there. Man, they hate americans. they think we are a big fat lies.

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