Cayley Glider

The firs theavier-than-air fliying machines capable of carrying a man were the work of Yorkshire landowner Sir Georgc Cayley.  An amateur inventor of genius, Cayley devoted much of his life to investigating flight and testing model and full-size gliders.
Since these experiments were carried out in the privacy of his estate at Brompton Hall, details of his achievements are hard to establish. In 1849 a ten-year-old boy apparently made a brief ascent in a Cayley
triplane. Four years later his terrified coachman was a reluctant passenger in another glider: the coachman is said to have
quit his job on the spot, roundly declaring that he was “hired to drive, not to fly”.
The glider shown here is a design Cayley published in 1852. Confusingly described as a “Governable Parachute”, it had a shortspan sail-winy similar to those now used in certain hang-gliders. The occupant, seated in a boat-like fuselage beneath the wing,  controlled the craft through the “influencer”; this was a combined rudder and elevator operated by a tiller. The glider’s undercarriage used tension-spoked wheels, another of the baronet’s ingenious inventions. Cayley intended to have the craft taken aloft beneath a balloon and then released into a long, gliding descent. Sadly, when he died in 1857  the glider remained unbuilt. In the 1970S, however, a full-size likeness was constructed, fainthfully following Cayley s description. It successfully flew under tow across the valley at Bompton Dale, where the inventor had lived and worked.