British Army Aeroplane No.1 Replica in Farnborough, England

On the 16th of October 1908, Samuel F Cody, in his British Army Aeroplane No.1, made the first powered, manned, and sustained flight in the United Kingdom. 

Samuel Cody was an American Wild West showman who, having developed an interest in flight, settled in Farnborough, already a centre for aviation development. Here, Cody designed and built a flying machine, using materials from the Farnborough Balloon Factory. In 1907, Cody began constructing a powered aircraft of a similar configuration to that used by the Wright brothers, expanding the wingspan to 52ft, and the following year he was ready to make history.

In the United Kingdom’s first powered and sustained flight, Cody covered 1,390ft, making an abrupt landing when one wingtip collided with the ground after the first-time pilot avoided a group of trees. Having spent the rest of the year on repairs, Cody made further flights during the first part of 1909. Now able to remain airborne for several miles, Cody considered his plane safe enough to take a passenger, and flew his wife, making Lela Cody the first woman to fly in an aeroplane in the United Kingdom.

Less than half a kilometre from the take-off point of Cody’s historic flight, and overlooking Farnbough’s Airport, the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) museum houses a full-size replica of British Army Aeroplane No. 1. Built in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the UK’s first flight in 2008, the replica was built by a team of volunteers using materials authentic to Cody’s first aeroplane. Now displayed within the museum’s Cody Pavillion, aviation and history enthusiasts alike can visit and admire this iconic plane.

In 1913, less than 5 years after his first flight, Samuel Cody was killed. Having designed a further 5 planes over the same amount of years, Cody was piloting his newest design when it broke up at 200 ft over Farnborough. Despite being a civilian, Cody was buried at Aldershot’s Military Cemetery with full military honours, in recognition of his immense contribution to aviation in the British Armed Forces.

Also within the FAST museum, you can find a Flying Cap of Cody’s, which he used to provide limited protection during crashes ‘or enthusiastic landings’, alongside a vast collection of artefacts from Farnborough’s long history in aviation.Outside the museum stands a statue of Samuel F Cody, and 300 metres away, beside the Aviator Hotel, a plaque and stone mark the site where he first took off on the UK’s first flight.

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