Franklin Samuel Cowdery, adopted as Samuel Franklin Cody, was known for being Britain’s flying cowboy in 1908. Born in Iowa but raised in Texas, Cody had a knack for aeronautical design since he was a young boy. He would go on to become an aviation forerunner, but it would not be in Texas. By a twist of fate, cowboy Cody came to flying fame in Farnborough, England.
Cody was a talented marksman, roper, and rider in Texas. His interest in flight came when he allegedly met a Chinese chuckwagon cook. While Cody was riding on the Chisholm Trail, the cook showed him a giant kite he had built for Cody. It was then Cody began thinking about what it would be like if there was a kite big enough to carry a person. He began brainstorming the science needed to lift someone high and for a substantial distance.
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Later, Cody joined the Wild West show where he was known as “Captain Cody, King of the Cowboys.” After that, Cody went on to join the Annie Oakley show where he was given the privilege to travel to England. While traveling with the show he developed weather kites for the British Navy, which earned him a fellowship in the Royal Meteorological Society.
Cody built kites that could fly 14,000 feet high. He also assisted in developing and piloting a dirigible, airship. Cody made history when he flew his personally designed Army Aeroplane No. 1. He flew 30 to 40 feet high, which in England was the first powered flight. It was then that he earned the name The Father of British Aviation.
In 1913, after many survived crashes, Cody crashed and died while trying to fly over the Atlantic in a floatplane. After his death, Britain’s Farnborough Aviation Center erected a large monument in Cody’s honor. He lives on through autobiographies, in England’s history and in the hearts of Texans.