The link between Cody’s kites and his aeroplanes is the motor kite which he constructed at Farnborough in 1907 (possibly started in 1906). This was a pilotless biplane which bore a strong resemblance to a Cody kite but incorporated additional control surfaces and a three cylinder 12hp Buchet engine.  The span of the upper wing is estimated to have been 35 feet (10.5 metres) and was larger than the lower wing.  The undercarriage, utilising bicycle forks and wheels, was fitted beneath the central box section and two long skids were mounted beneath the twin tail rudders.  The machine had a horizontal tail plane and at one stage biplane elevators/balancing planes were fitted on the front.  The single propeller was situated behind the wings.  The motor kite was tested both along the ground and suspended from an overhead cable rigged between two masts.  There is no evidence that it ever made a free flight.  Cody himself said, when presenting slides of the machine to a meeting of the Aeronautical Society- ‘This is a kite; I am just starting the engine and I am trying to get out of the way to let it run.  It was supposed to be let loose, but the authorities were afraid I might do some damage by letting it go up in the sky.’

   Unfortunately not many illustrations are available of the motor kite.   The three illustrations below show (in order) Cody (in white coat kneeling) making adjustments to the machine watched by men of the Royal Engineers, the motor kite suspended from the roof of the Airship Shed and a rear view taken at the entrance of the Airship Shed.

SF Motorkites © Defence Evaluation Research Agency
SF Motorkites © SF Cody's Archive of Originals LTD SF Motorkites © SF Cody's Archive of Originals LTD

Welcome to


Presented here is a brief summary of the life and achievements of Samuel Franklin Cody (1867–1913), showman, kite developer and aviator; a man of greatly diverse talents and for me a subject of abiding fascination.

S F is based on the information I have gathered during many years of research.

There are, however, still many gaps in the story and further information & comments would be very welcome.

So please feel free to e-mail me