FAST Cody Flyer Project News Archive

Cody Flyer Project - Progress Report DECEMBER 2008

Well we did it!

The replica of British Army Aeroplane No 1A was completed in time for the 16th October 2008 to commemorate Cody’s achievement of the first powered flight in the UK, exactly 100 years on, and only a few hundred metres from where the actual flight took place.
The day was brilliant as all invited and honoured guests, including the media, witnessed a re-enactment of the 27 seconds of his famous flight by team members Dave Madgwick (Cody) and Veronica Graham-Green (Lela). Amongst the various formalities ‘Lela’ is seen left presenting Mrs Pamela Shrubb with a bouquet in appreciation of her generous donation which funded the construction of the Cody pavilion.

‘Lela’ presenting Mrs Pamela Shrubb with a bouquet in appreciation of her generous donation

On the engineering side, the design of the transport joint system was again tested with the breakdown of the replica at the airshow site, temporary storage, then re-construction in the new dedicated pavilion at the FAST museum site.
This time however the fabric was permanently sewn in place including adding a new section covering the fuselage and a fairing behind the pilots seat. There does however remain one engineering task left; that of fitting Cody’s wing warping system. Some early hardware such as pulleys have already been fitted but it will probably be the Spring of 2009 before this task is complete.

The completed Cody Flyer in all it's glory

It just remains now to thank everybody who helped with the project, however large or small their contribution. This achievement in its own way was just as incredible as Cody’s efforts 100 years ago. At the start of the project some 20 months ago there was no team, no design, no money, and nowhere to exhibit the result. However under the guidance of Dave Wilson (Project Manager) supported by a core team of enthusiasts the Cody Flyer Project was turned into reality proving testament to the wide range of skills, experience and dedication of the team members of FAST to make it happen.

The Cody Flyer Project team

The Cody Flyer Replica is now fully open to the public inside its new pavilion on all museum opening days (Saturday and Sundays 10am to 4 pm). We hope all who read this will visit and see for themselves the incredible engineering achievement of the first man to perform recognised powered and controlled flight in the United Kingdom.

Finally it is with great pleasure to announce that the Royal Aeronautical Society has awarded FAST its Historical Group Centenary Certificate for Heritage Projects “in recognition of outstanding achievement in this centenary year of powered flight in the United Kingdom”.


Its now been three months since we last reported during the run up to the Farnborough air show held 14th to 20th July.
We succeeded in displaying the replica in an advanced state of completion in the Pioneers of Flight Pavilion alongside replicas of two A V Roe machines and a Wright Flyer.
For those interested in historic aviation, this was a totally unique event. The photo (below) shows descendants of all three pioneers (Amanda Wright Lane, Peter Cody, Samuel F Cody, John Cody and Eric Verdon Roe) in front of the Cody Flyer.
Thousands of visitors passed through the pavilion to mavel at these machines and all were impressed particularly by the sheer size of the Cody Flyer.

Jean Roberts lovely Cody painting

On the engineering side, the design of the transport joint system was proven with the basic airframe going together remarkably well in just a few days.
We were able to fully clad the wings and flying control surfaces with fabric (although pinned rather than sewn in some areas) and all the flying controls were ‘dressed’ and fitted with their control wires back to the control column/gate.
We were thus able to demonstrate how these surfaces moved using the actual control column.
Another feature was the animation of the propellers and drive belts which, together with the recorded sound of a big V8 engine, proved very popular.
Below is an image link to a short (external) video of the Cody Flyer at the Farnborough International Airshow 2008. Please click the image to see the video (will open a new window)

Following the show the replica was again taken apart and stored in the FIVE building (courtesy of Farnborough International) awaiting the construction of a new purpose built Cody Pavilion being erected adjacent to the FAST museum (photo below).
We are now re-constructing the Flyer for the 100th anniversary events taking place on the 16th October. The form and nature of the celebrations are a closely guarded secret but we can promise the Cody Flyer replica will be in its most advanced build state including some important refinements not seen earlier in the year at the Farnborough air show.

Jean Roberts lovely Cody painting

Following a formal ceremony (with invited guests only) to mark the 100th anniversary of Cody’s historic flight on the morning of October 16th, from 1pm onwards the pavilion will be open to the public and thereafter on all normal museum opening days (Saturday & Sundays 10am to 4pm).

Cody Flyer Project  - Farnborough International Air Show - July 2008

The Cody Flyer replica is now complete and reassembled at the Farnborough International Airshow 2008.
locatated within the "Pioneers Of Flight" Pavilion.

Cody Flyer Project  -  Progress Report June 2008

The last period has seen major activity preparing the replica for the move out of the ‘Badger Works’ across to the Airshow site into the Pioneers of Flight Pavilion which took place successfully on the 29th May.
For the move, thanks to application of the novel ‘transport joints’ incorporated into the design, the replica was separated into fuselage, port & starboard wing assemblies and transported individually.
The picture (below) shows the starboard wing assembly being towed along the airport perimeter road with FAST volunteers at the helm. This piture was taken at a spot very close to where Cody actually took off on his historic first flight.

The starboard wing assembly being towed along the airport perimeter road with FAST volunteers at the helm

On the engineering side, considerable progress has been made. As you can see in the picture (below) a number of ancillaries have been test fitted including the control gate, fuel tank and propeller assemblies.
The airframe structure is substantially complete and fully wired with both port & starboard wing assemblies joined correctly to the fuselage. Also achieved was the design and build of an electronics assembly which will fit between the engine bearers to control an electric drive system capable of turning the engine crankshaft, ancillaries and propellers for demonstration.
There will also be a sound system to mimic the noise of the big Antoinette V8.

The control gate, fuel tank and propeller assemblies in tets position

The replica has now been re-assembled on the Farnborough Airshow site and work is continuing at pace to make it ready for the show in July (14th to 20th July 2008). As can be seen in the picture (below) work has started to fit the wing coverings.
The ladies in the project team have not only produced perfectly fitting fabric but they are prepared to work at altitude to fit it!
We are now well placed to have the replica substantially complete for the show, which will form a wonderful centrepiece with a Wright Flyer and two A V Roe replicas close by, an opportunity not to be missed for historic aircraft enthusiasts.

High altitude wing fabric fixing!

We hope to have exciting news soon about the ongoing display of the Cody Flyer back at the FAST museum site after the airshow and things planned for the run up to the anniversary in October.

Cody Flyer Project  -  Progress Report May 2008

The last period has seen consistent progress across all aspects of the build programme including construction of the companion simulator. Various key parts and sub-assemblies continue to arrive at the museum for integration into the airframe.  Preparations are in hand for the move of the replica to its new, but temporary, location on Farnborough airfield for subsequent display at the Air Show in July.  Cody’s masterpiece will be displayed alongside a Wright Flyer and other replicas of the era in a special pavilion dedicated to 100 years of powered flight.  Take a look at the beautiful replica engine being constructed for the simulator by FAST volunteers.

A wonderous, scratch built, replic engine for the Cody Flyer Simulator - Spot the plastic plumbing fittings!

On the engineering side more key milestones have been achieved.  The most significant of these was successful joining of the fuselage with the port and starboard wing assemblies to make a complete airframe.  This has proven the design of the novel ‘transport joint system’ specially developed to allow the replica to be safely moved in sections. Other achievements include mounting of the two large aluminium radiators on the struts in the port and starboard wing bays, fitting of the wingtip wheel assemblies, test alignment of the propeller shafts and production of the electric drive system to animate the engine crank shaft, drive train and propellers.   Fabric sections continue to be sewn and prepared for fitting and fabric ‘socks’ have been produced for the so called ‘front rudder’.

The Main frame in all it's glory complete with two large aluminium radiators (one just visible on the left)

The replica will take its rightful place at the various centenary celebrations planned throughout this year.  As media interest in the centenary grows watch out for TV and Radio coverage of the project helping to advertise FAST and our mission to conserve the rich aviation heritage of Farnborough over the years.  Even at this stage we are still actively seeking more financial sponsorship as project costs currently exceed our project funds.  Sponsors can be publicly recognised as helping us with this nationally important and historically significant event.

Fabric sections continue
		  to be sewn and prepared for fitting and fabric ‘socks’ have been produced
		  for the so called ‘front rudder’

Cody Flyer Project  -  Progress Report MARCH 2008

Firstly, two new pages have been created featuring the names & roles of the invaluable Cody Flyer Project Team and a list of Supporting Organisations
Both pages have been added to the navigation bar above:
Cody Team & Support Team.

The period starting in January 2008 has seen the project move into the most exciting phase of all; the construction!  With the background research, planning, and production methods now largely complete we have moved smoothly into the actual build.  We are pleased to report that to date everything is going very much to plan leading towards a roll out in time for Farnborough International in July 2008.  In addition to the core project team working in the ‘Badger Works’, numerous FAST members, individuals, small engineering companies and supporting organisations are currently busy fabricating a host of fittings and subassemblies off site.

Wing Construction well under way at the 'Badger Works'

From an engineering point of view progress has been good.  We are proud to confirm important milestones have been achieved.  These include construction of  port and starboard wing assemblies and the front rudder (actually an elevator) assembly.  The fuselage has also been fabricated and is now integrated with the undercarriage assembly and tail wheel to achieve ‘weight on wheels’.  All these assemblies include wire bracing, turn buckles, and the use of the famous Cody Knots.  Fabric sections have also been prepared and stitched ready for application to the wings. We will now soon be in a position to fit the wing assemblies to the fuselage to form the first complete airframe structure.

Rudder Construction well under way at the 'Badger Works'

The risk to successful completion is diminishing daily and we are now more confident than ever of completion in time for the replica to take its rightful place at the various centenary celebrations taking place later this year.  One thing is sure; as the structure takes shape we have been reminded how impressively large Cody’s aircraft was and what a magnificent achievement he made back at the turn of the century.
We are still actively seeking financial sponsorship in return for being listed and recognised as helping us with this nationally important and historically significant event.

Undercarriage assembly with 'weight on wheels'

December 2007 - January 2008

As we approach the new year we are reminded of the main objectives of the project, to have completed a faithful replica of British Army Aeroplane No 1A in time for the many planned centenary celebrations around 16th October 2008 including the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2008.  The last period has been a time of consolidation, completing drawings, ordering further parts and materials and conducting further painstaking research into the unique construction techniques used by Cody on the 1A.  Through the dedicated efforts of the project team and prolific use of the full size mock-up assemblies described in earlier reports many of the design mysteries have now been solved and the final configuration is now frozen.


From an engineering point of view the project team are now well established in their new home, the ‘badger’ works (see image below), having set up and moved benches, storage, jigs, materials, machine tools, etc, from the main museum complex.  This area is providing an excellent covered space for the safe storage of major components and for the final construction phase of the project.  The project team would particularly like to acknowledge the owners of the ‘badger’ works and the enormous additional support provided by museum staff,  FAST trustees and members during this move.

Some of the Cody Team at the 'Badger Works'

On the construction side all but a few minor components and materials have now been ordered.  On a weekly basis finished components and assemblies are starting to arrive at the ’badger’ works.  Items already received include the impressively long wing spars (over 26 ft long) precision castings and numerous hand crafted wood components both for the wings and fuselage. Considerable work has been conducted on the wing spars machining and profiling them to the right length and shape and they are currently being fitted with their relevant castings.   All the wing fabric has been procured and dedicated FAST members are currently sewing the complex sections, pockets and seams required.  Several major sub-assemblies are being constructed off-site by various engineering companies supporting the project and the largest and most complex of these, the undercarriage, is now complete and delivered.

Castings have arrived for the Cody Flyer

In summary the project is still on schedule and due to complete in time for the important celebrations next year.  Finance still remains an issue although we are getting a steady flow of donations for the project. However if not already please consider becoming an official sponsor and be recognised as helping this nationally important

Finally please see below a recently discovered painting of the first flight of the 1A. We have found out that it is by a French artist, Paul Langelle. If anybody recognises this picture, or has any information about it, please contact the museum on 01252-375050 or via our CONTACTS page and let us know. 

Curious Old Painting of the First Flight of the 1A

It just remains on behalf of the entire project team, trustees and members of FAST to wish all our sponsors and supporters a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2008.

November 2007

Cody Flyer project –Thames Valley Tonight Television News Article - mpg video

Below an MPG video clip from Thames Valley Tonight Television news report on the Cody Project. It is viewable with the Quicktime player

If you cannot view the clip, you may need to download the Quicktime player HERE

October 2007

Cody Flyer project – BBC Southern Counties Radio interview

Please find below an MP3 audio clip of a recent BBC Southern Counties Radio interview with Cody Flyer Project Leader, David Wilson.
(If you can't see the player bar below, you may require the Flash Player Plugin, which can be found HERE)

September 2007

Cody Flyer project – Second Progress Report

Following months of  hard work by the design team the outline drawings by John Roberts have been turned into design drawings for the manufacture of all the parts needed to build the replica of the 1A.  The full sized mock-up of the cockpit and flight control system constructed in the FAST museum during the summer has proven the operation of all the flight controls including the feasibility of using bicycle brake cable which appears to have been a feature of the original Cody design.

wing section mockup wing section mockup fabric overlaying

A full scale mock-up of a section of wing has been completed and trials of methods for fabric covering has begun.  Both the cockpit mock-up and the partial assembly of the wing section have given the design team considerable insight into Cody’s design detail and have served to demonstrate the huge size of the original aircraft.  Wood for the Main Spars and new Main Wheels, said to have been made for a rickshaw, have also been obtained.

Cody wheel Cody Flyer mockup

All the drawings for the castings on the wings and fuselage have now been completed using modern CAD techniques from which it is planned to produce castings without the need for hand built patterns. A company in the Midlands has agreed to undertake the work and another  company in Surrey has agreed to make several of the aircraft’s major sub-assemblies such as the main undercarriage and work has already begun.

cody project team meeting cody flyer model

To support the design research several scale models are being built.  Andrew Rae has built a flying model with a wing span of 5 feet, similar in design to the 1A, but modified slightly to be practical and to have flying characteristics somewhat better than those of the original aircraft.  Also a small flying model made by Jim Morley was recently demonstrated successfully flying ‘downhill’.  Jim is also constructing a 5 foot wing span, accurate, highly detailed non-flying model of the 1A for ultimate display in the museum.

wing mockup with fabric

A flight simulator for museum visitors to try and fly the 1A is being developed by the Merlin Flight Simulation Group and is well under way.  We currently expect the simulator to be operational before the replica is ready.  Also within the museum complex a new display area has been created with photographs and information describing project progress.  Media items about the project have also been broadcast on both local TV and Radio.
setup of wing mockup

In summary the project has moved forward significantly and is still on course for completion prior to the first scheduled public appearance of 1A at the Farnborough International Air Show in July next year. However we urgently need more funds towards the cost of building and housing the replica so please go to the donations page on the project website to become an official sponsor and share in this historic event.

12th June 2007

Cody Flyer project – First Progress Report

It is now some six months since the start of the project and formation of the project team. During this period many meetings have taken place to discuss detailed design issues with a view to taking firm decisions regarding choice of materials, construction techniques and health and safety issues. Of particular importance has been the generation of modern drawings and CAD representations from old photographs, other historic data only available to FAST and input from our Cody advisors John and Jean Roberts. It remains a firm aim that the project will construct a faithful replica of British Army Aircraft No 1A which is near as possible to the original aircraft both in choice of materials, construction techniques and dimensions.

On the engineering side the drawings and CAD stages are almost complete and various parts have already been manufactured for mock-up assembly in the museum at Farnborough. In particular the flight control system is a bit of a mystery as no detailed photos and/or drawings have survived so we are producing a full size mock-up based on what evidence we have to check our understanding of the rigging of the flight controls and to test how they actually work in practice.

tail section mockup cockpit controls

On the construction side various wooden ribs and spars have been produced full size for use in the mock ups and also to confirm the woodworking practices and skills necessary to manufacture the real parts for the replica. Various materials and hardware for the rigging and wing coverings have been specified, sourced and ordered where necessary.

ribs & spars cockpit controls

A full size ‘test’ wing panel has been constructed to investigate chord and camber adjustments, stiffness, fabric sewing and various fixing issues.

wing mockup

In summary the project is progressing well and currently on plan for completion and display next year. As a charitable trust we still need donations towards the cost of building the aircraft and any contribution would be gratefully received. This is a unique opportunity for you to become personally involved with this historic project. Just go to the donations page for details of how to become a sponsor and associated benefits.

11th March 2007

CODY FLYER Appeal Launched

The FAST Cody Flyer Project, aimed at building a full size non-flying replica of the first British aeroplane to make a successful powered flight on October 16, 1908, has progressed to the point where many details of the design have been prepared and manufacture is now at the advanced planning stage. Work has already begun to make the first components and assembly of the aircraft will start later in the year.

Most importantly, the appeal for funds is now underway. A generous donation of £1,000 from an individual has been received and the first company sponsor has come forward with a major contribution, details of which will be announced later.

FAST needs to raise around £30,000 to complete the project in time for next year’s 100th Anniversary celebrations, and it is expected the Cody Flyer replica will attract considerable international attention and interest.

More donations, large and small, are required and a “menu” of components is being prepared, so that donors can, if they wish, offer to sponsor specific parts. A scale of possible charges is being prepared. This might range from £10 for parts of the bracing wires through to £100 for a wing strut and up to £1,000 for a major structural component.
These cost cover materials only with all other effort being given on a volunteer basis. Donors who contribute to the project will have their names entered into a roll of honour, which will eventually be displayed alongside the replica when it goes on public display. Donors will also be able to apply for exclusive free tickets to the historic roll-out ceremony and other commemorative events in 2008.

The aircraft parts which will have to be bought, rather than made by the FAST construction team are being investigated and companies are being approached seeking sponsorship. They will be given publicity priority as the project develops.
The FAST project team now comprises over 30 members, nearly all of whom have extensive engineering and aeronautical experience and other key skills.
A small team of engineering students from Farnborough College of Technology are also taking an active part in the design and build of the replica, and it is planned to extend the educational aspect of the project as it grows.

15th January 2007

FAST Launches CODY FLYER Project

Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), the conservation and heritage group dedicated to safeguarding Farnborough’s aviation history, has launched a project to build a full-size replica of British Army Aeroplane No1A, the aircraft in which Samuel Franklin Cody made the first successful powered flight in Great Britain, at Farnborough, Hampshire, on 16th October 1908.

British Army Aeroplane No.1A 'Cody Flyer'

The project is aimed at becoming the focus for centenary celebrations of this important historical event in 2008, and will also include a unique educational aspect, bringing together organisations which will be offered the opportunity to participate.
The project has already received enthusiastic support from Rushmoor Borough Council and local MP, Gerald Howarth, and a major partnering and fund-raising effort will be launched.

The non-flying replica will be built full size, and with a 52ft wingspan will be impressively large.
Designed to look as authentic as possible in appearance, using representative materials, including some original Cody bamboo, it will be unique as after the first flight, the actual aircraft crashed and its design was subsequently modified.

The design chosen by FAST will be based on detailed plans researched by local historian and Cody expert, Jean Roberts, and drawn by John Roberts, depicting the configuration as flown on 16th October 1908.
It is intended to allow the public to see progress on the replica in the FAST Museum, on Farnborough Road, when the components begin to take shape. It is hoped that a public preview might be possible in time for the 2008 Farnborough International Airshow.

The project team is led by FAST member David Wilson, who before retirement was responsible in MOD for Eurofighter. He is one of many team members who are also members of the Farnborough Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Members of the project team have extensive aeronautical knowledge and skills, many being ex-RAE specialists, and some are employed at QinetiQ and other aerospace organisations. Work has already started on the preparation of lists of materials and components needed, and detailed drawings and patterns. All work is on an unpaid voluntary basis though some components are expected to be bought in or donated by partner companies.

FAST’s Chairman, Richard Gardner, said, “ This will become a high-profile national project, and will generate not only increased knowledge of Cody’s success, and Farnborough’s place in aviation history, but should attract active involvement by young people and we hope that this will continue well beyond 2008.

FAST Media contact:
Richard Gardner Tel 01252 515562

Project Leader:
David Wilson Tel 01420 23644

Project Deputy:
Maurice Shakespeare

Information on Samual Franklin Cody:
Jean Roberts Tel 01252 543740

Samuel Franklin Cody