Authors: Ben Ruhe
Date Submitted: May 31, 2001
Article Type: Journal

Interest in the strange, wonderful life of aerial pioneer Samuel F. Cody has never waned since his death almost a century ago. Evidence for this can be found on the Internet where Jean Roberts, a foremost expert on Cody, has mounted an interesting and well illustrated web site: http://

The British site spans Cody’s early theatrical career; his work with kites embracing mainly man-lifting systems; his study of gliders, motorized kites and airships; and finally his invention of the first airplane in England and subsequent triumph as barnstorming pilot and martyred national hero. The site has a useful bibliography and excellent links section, including the address of a French group that offers free plans for the ever popular Cody winged box kite, as well as the address for the quirky Cody Society, in rural Surrey.

New to many will be the information on the Cody motor kite of l907, the direct connection between Cody’s kites and his first flyable manned aircraft. A 35-foot pilotless biplane with horizontal tail plane, this motor kite was tested on the ground and suspended from a cable but was never permitted free flight. Showing a photograph of it at an illustrated lecture, Cody commented: “This is a kite; I am just starting the engine and I am trying to get out of the way to let it run. It was supposed to be let loose but the authorities were afraid I might do some damage by letting it go up in the sky.”

PDF Link: Journal Issue