Samuel Franklin Cody 1867 – 1913 – early pioneer of manned flight

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Samuel Franklin Cody 1867 – 1913 – early pioneer of manned flight
Image by brizzle born and bred
Samuel Franklin Cowdery (later known as Samuel Franklin Cody) (6 March 1867 – 7 August 1913) was born in Davenport, Iowa, USA. He was an early pioneer of manned flight, most famous for his work on the large kites known as Cody War-Kites that were used in World War I as a smaller alternative to balloons for artillery spotting. He was also the first man to conduct a powered flight in Britain, on 16 October 1908. A flamboyant showman, he was and still is often confused with Buffalo Bill Cody, whose surname he took when young.

Cody’s early life is difficult to separate from his own stories told later in life, but he was born Samuel Franklin Cowdery in 1867 in Davenport, Iowa, where he attended school until the age of 12. Not much is known about his life at this time although he claimed that during his youth he had lived the typical life of a cowboy. He learned how to ride and train horses, shoot and use a lasso. He later claimed to have prospected for gold in an area which later became Dawson City, centre of the famous Klondike Gold Rush.

In 1888, at 21 years of age, Cody started touring the US with Forepaugh’s Circus, which at the time had a large Wild West show component. He married Maud Maria Lee in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and the name Samuel Franklin Cody appears on the April, 1889 marriage certificate.

Cody, together with his wife Maud Maria Lee, toured England with a shooting act. Maud used the stage name Lillian Cody, which she kept for the rest of her performing career. In London they met Mrs Elizabeth Mary King (later known as Lela Marie Cody) (nee Elizabeth Mary Davis) who had stage ambitions for two of her younger children, Vivian and Leon King (later known as Leon and Vivian Cody). In 1891, Maud Maria Lee (Cody’s real wife) taught the boys how to shoot, but then later returned to the USA alone. Evidence suggests that by the autumn of 1891, Maud was unable to perform with her husband due to injury, morphine addiction, the onset of schizophrenia, or a combination of these ills. After Maud returned to America, her husband took up with Mrs King; but the marriage of Cody and Lee was never legally dissolved.

While in England, Cody, Lela King and her sons toured the music halls, which were very popular at the time, giving demonstrations of his horse riding, shooting and lassoing skills. While touring Europe in the mid-1890s, Cody capitalized on the bicycle craze by staging a series of horse vs. bicycle races against famous cyclists. Cycling organizations quickly frowned on this practice, which drew accusations of fixed results. In 1898 Cody’s stage show, The Klondyke Nugget, became very successful; it included Edward Le Roy (Edward King, Lela’s eldest son from her marriage to Edward John King (a licensed victualler) and brother to Leon and Vivian who were known as Cody to save any embarrassment. While in England, Cody still lived with Mrs King (his common-law wife who used the name of Lela Marie Cody, and who was generally assumed to be his legal wife). One of Lela’s great-grandsons is the BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson.

It is not clear why Cody became fascinated by kite flying. Cody liked to recount a tale that he first became inspired by a Chinese cook; who, apparently, taught him to fly kites, whilst traveling along the old cattle trail. However, it is more likely that Cody’s interest in kites was kindled by his friendship with Auguste Gaudron, a balloonist that Cody met while performing at Alexandra Palace. Cody showed an early interest in the creation of man-lifting kites, which were joined one after the other, forming a single line of kites in the sky. Leon also became interested, and the two of them competed to make the largest kites capable of flying at ever-increasing heights. Vivian too became involved after a great deal of experimentation. Financed by his shows, Cody patented his famous design in 1901, a winged variation of Lawrence Hargrave’s double-cell box kite.

He offered this version for spotting to the War Office in December 1901 for use in the Second Boer War, and made several demonstration flights of up to 2,000 ft in various places around London.

A large exhibition of the Cody kites took place at Alexandra Palace in 1903. Later he succeeded in crossing the English Channel in a Berthon boat towed by one of his kites. His exploits came to the attention of the Admiralty, who hired him to look into the military possibilities of using kites for observation posts. He demonstrated them later that year, and again in 1908 when he flew off the deck of battleship HMS Revenge on September 2.

Cody’s interests turned to gliders, based largely on his kite designs. He built a glider and flew it a number of times in 1905. It eventually suffered damage in a hard landing and was not repaired. This was because the British Army had since become sufficiently impressed in his kites to hire Cody as Chief Instructor in Kiting at the Balloon School in Aldershot in 1906. Cody was charged with the formation of two kite sections of the Royal Engineers. It was this group that would evolve into the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers, No. 1 Company of which later became No. 1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and eventually No. 1 Squadron Royal Air Force.…

During this period he also built a motorized kite that he wanted to develop into a man-carrying airplane. However, the Army was more interested in airships, and during 1907 he was part of the team at Aldershot making British Army Dirigible No 1, christened Nulli Secundus, England’s first powered airship. On October 5 the Nulli Secundus flew from Aldershot to London in 3 hours 25 minutes with Cody, the principal designer of the propulsion system and gondola, and Colonel J E Capper on board. After circling St Paul’s Cathedral they attempted to return to Aldershot, but 18 mph headwinds forced them to land at Crystal Palace.

Later that year the Army decided to back the development of a powered aeroplane, the British Army Aeroplane No 1. After just under a year of construction he started testing the machine in September 1908, gradually lengthening his "hops" until they reached 1,390 ft (420 m) on 16 October. His flight of 5 October is recognised as the first official flight of a piloted heavier than air machine in Great Britain.

The machine had been damaged at the end of the 16 October flight. After repairs and extensive modifications Cody flew it again early the following year. But the War Office then decided to stop backing development of heavier-than-air aircraft, and Cody’s contract with the Army ended in April 1909.

Cody was given the aircraft, and continued to work on the aircraft at Farnborough, using Laffan’s Plain for his test flights. On May 14 he succeeded in flying the aircraft for over a mile, establishing the first official British distance and endurance records. By August 1909 Cody had completed the last of his long series of modifications to the aircraft. Cody carried passengers for the first time on 14 August 1909, first his old workmate Capper, and then Lela Cody (Mrs Elizabeth Mary King).…

White Poppies as far as the eye can see
Image by Christopher_Hawkins
I think I missed the best time for taking photos of this field, the wind had knocked a fair few of the delicate poppy petals off during the day.

Click here to see roughly where this photo was taken. Courtesy of the nice people at BeeLoop SL.

In 2001 the UK Home Office allowed the trial cultivation of poppies for medical morphine production.

Several ( secret ( opps sorry guys for blowing the locations! Guess its hard to hide a field of red or white flowers.)) sites in Hampshire ( England ) where chosen for this small scale experiment.

The poppies have been grown to only allow morphine rather than heroin production, I think this is to prevent any drug / oil based reasons for invasion from the U.S.A..

The majority of images in this set were from these trials around Basingstoke. However with the decline of the more damaging weed killers and farming methods, more and more varieties of poppy are returning to the hedgerows and farmland.

This June ( 2006 ) has seen the best show for many years.

More information from the media can be seen in reports from The BBC – November, 2001 and The BBC – August, 2002.

Image by diluvienne
At the Heidelgberger Schloss, there was a pharmacy history exposition!

In this box, there are samples of purified caffeine (1), atropine (19), codeine (20) and morphine (21), among other compounds.

From Dr. L. C. Marquardt OHG (Bonn), 1850.

Deutsches Apotheken-Museum, Heidelberger Schloss, Heidelberg, Germany. 21Jun2010

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