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A Brief History Of Kites. Part 3

In continuing the story, a brief account may be given of the achievements of other pioneers. Captain B. F. S. Baden-Powell, brother of the founder of the Scout movement, was one of them. He was a well-known balloonist, who at Pirbright Camp in 1894, successfully demonstrated his man-lifting kites. A few years later, H. D. Wise tried out a linked series of box-kites which were able to lift a man. In this brief list of pioneers a special place must be given to Samuel Franklin Cody. He was born in America, and became a naturalized Englishman in 1896. One biography states that he was the first man to fly in Great Britain, and was the maker of the first practical British flying machine. Cody worked at the War Office Kite and Balloon Factory at Farnborough. He patented his man-lifting kites in 1901. They followed the pattern set by Baden-Powell, that is, in the form of a train or linked series. Cody's kite system was officially adopted by the War Office in 1904. In this system the operator was carried by one kite, which was connected to the other kites by means of a cable. The carrier-kite could be raised or lowered on the cable. It appears that there were also cords by means of which the operator could make the carrier-kite swivel to the right or the left.

It is interesting to note that Mrs Cody, following Martha Pocock's example, made a few ascents with her husband's kites. In 1903, Cody made a Channel crossing from France to England. This he accomplished in a specially made boat which was harnessed to a kite - hence the name, kite-boat. He also fitted an engine to a modified kite, called a power-kite, and in it he made what is called the first short aeroplane flight in England. The link between the kite and the aeroplane is stressed in a statement made by O. L. Owen, a writer on aviation. He says: 'All the successful gliders and power-driven planes of the experimental period were based to a large extent upon the principles of the box-kite.' We may also note what another authority on the subject, C. H. Gibbs-Smith, says: 'The first successful biplanes in Europe (1905-10) were not only based on these kites, but were colloquially referred to as "box-kites".'

Space is too limited to allow more than a brief mention of that daring and resourceful aviator, Octave Chanute. He was an American who designed and experimented with many machines and made over 1,000 flights. One illustration depicts him as literally hanging on in the air to a craft which had box-kite type wings and a kite-like tail. His fellow-countrymen, Wilbur and Orville Wright, won never-dying fame in the world of flight. They were the sons of a bishop and lived at Dayton, Ohio. An early interest in kites was the starting point on the road which led to great achievements. In September 1900, they took their first glider to the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, on the coast of North Carolina. The machine was mostly flown as a kite, being controlled by cords reaching to the ground. On one or two occasions it was flown as a glider, and some successful flights were made. These were the signs and promises of greater things to come.

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