The first powered aeroplane to fly in Britain was the brainchild of an
expatriate American, S. F. “Cody”. Born in Iowa as Samuel Franklin Coudery, he had renamed himself after his gun-slinging hero, “BuffaloBill” Cody. A flamboyant personality. Cowdery/Cody ran a Wild West show before moving to Britain in 2896 and developing an interest in flight.
He was employed by the British Army after making a man-carrying kite that could be used as an airborne observation post. In late 1907, with the support of Colonel Capper, Superintendent of the Army Ballloon Factory at Farnbornugh, Hampshire,Cody embarked on the design and construction of a powered aircraft. British Army Aeroplane No. 1 was unveiled in mid-September 1908. A large biplane, it was powered by a 50-hp Antoinette engine driving a pair of pusher propellers through a belt drive. After a series of tests on the ground, the first flight was made on the morning of 16 October 1908 on Farnborough Common.
Cody few for 1,390ft before crashing while trying to avoid some troublesome trees. However, the War Office found aviation too expensive, and Clody’s contract was abruptly terminated in 1909.
He continued to build and fly aeroplanes until 1913, when he was killed piloting one of his machines that broke up in flight.