The replica of the Cody's aeroplane
In autumn 1908 a Hampshire field was the site of the first powered flight in the UK. The centenary is being marked by a team of enthusiasts who have constructed a replica of the remarkable flying machine which first took to the air 100 years ago.
The original plane - British Army Aeroplane No 1A - was built by flamboyant American aviation pioneer Samuel Cody at what was then the Army's military balloon factory at Farnborough in north Hampshire.
Samuel Cody (Photo: FAST Collection)
In October 1908 he made what was officially recorded as the first powered flight in Britain - reaching a height of 1,390 feet. Although the plane crash-landed, Cody had spent 27 seconds in the air.
A team of aviation enthusiasts, including some who worked on the latest RAF jet fighters, have put together a non-flying replica of Cody's flying machine.
The project has been run by Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), a conservation dedicated to safeguarding Farnborough’s aviation heritage.
Work on the replica
Chief engineer for the replica project David Ford has a lot of respect for Cody: "He had a lot of experience with kites but when he was trusting his own self to a motorised version, I don't know, it must have been quite unnerving."
The team are producing the fabric covering for the wooden frame of the wings, just as the seamstresses did in Cody's day.
Ann Wilson explained: "The ladies in Cody's time had every advantage in that they had huge workshops and were used to working with acres of fabric on balloons and airships - we're not used to that - unless we're making a pair of curtains!"
All the parts of the replica plane are now being assembled in time for this summer's Farnborough Air Show when it will take centre stage as part of a display celebrating a century of British aviation.
Samuel Cody became a British citizen and continued to develop more flying machines, despite the army withdrawing their support and finance as the military saw initially no future in flying.
In 1910 using his second constructed aircraft he won the Michelin Cup for the first completed flight of over four and a half hours, and in 1911 he built and flew the only British plane to complete the round-Britain race.
He was killed in an air crash in August 1913 and was buried with full military honours in the Aldershot Military Cemetery - his funeral procession is thought to have attracted a crowd of 100,000.
last updated: 14/10/2008 at 12:22