How we use Cookies

Aviation pioneer Samuel Cody left legacy for Farnborough

One-hundred years since the death of aviation pioneer Samuel Cody, we take a look back at what he did for Farnborough and the industry

 

August 7 marked 101 years since the death of Samuel Franklin Cody, the first person to pilot a powered flight in Britain.

In October 1908, Cody embarked on the first powered, controlled and sustained flight in the UK, making him Britain’s first pilot.

The historic flight took place in Farnborough, putting the town on the map as the birthplace of British aviation. The pilot flew almost 1,400 feet in 27 seconds to an altitude of 30 to 40 feet towards Cove common.

Cody, born in America, went on to become a British citizen and continued to pioneer his aeroplane work in Farnborough, living first in Mytchett and then Ash Vale.

During the winter of 1911, Cody began designs for a monoplane, which by spring 1912 was reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour.

Cody had plans for an air ambulance for the Royal Army Medical Corps and his final aircraft, the water-plane, had a 60 foot wingspan.

He practised floating the plane on the Basingstoke Canal near Laffan’s Plain, though the aircraft was designed to also be fitted with wheels in place of the floats.

Cody suffered a number of accidents during his many flights, including one in 1912 when his plane hit the ground at around 75mph and he suffered a severe blow to the head.

Later that year Cody had another crash when the engine suddenly cut out at 2,000 feet and his plane collided with a cow as he glided back to the ground.

However, an accident on August 7 1913 caused Cody’s untimely death, at the age of 46, as he flew over Cove common. His plane crashed on Ball Hill, which is now within Cody Technology Park, and he was hurled 500 feet to the ground.

The aviation pioneer’s funeral was held on August 11 that year and around 100,000 people lined the route as his coffin passed by on a gun carriage.

Last year, the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) Museum campaigned to ensure Cody was properly commemorated and, on the centenary of his death, a statue of was unveiled outside Trenchard House, in Farnborough Road.

Hundreds of people gathered around the monument to mark the anniversary.

Richard Gardner, chairman of FAST, said: “Cody is a hugely significant person in British aviation.

“He is really the guy who kick-started Farnborough’s role in aviation, it established Farnborough firmly in the history books.”

The museum has also built a full-size replica of the plane in which Cody made his first powered flight – British Army Aeroplane No 1A, also known as the Cody Flyer – which can be seen on display in the museum.

 

Journalists

James Chapple
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Laura Nightingale
Yateley Reporter
Natalie Garland
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Fergus McEwan
Community & Schools Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
Full newsroom contact details
Tell us what's happening in your area