George (later Sir George) Cayley was a Yorkshire baronet (1773 -1857). His early interest in science and mathematics led to a lifetime of invention and experimentation. He was involved in the establishment of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and built experimental artificial limbs, a hot air engine and from about 1804, models of flying machines. He was among the earliest to recognise the importance of fixed wings and calculated with some precision the aerodynamics of lift. His 1852 'governable parachute' design was published in the 25 September 1852 edition of Mechanics' Magazine. It was designed to be released from a balloon to glide back to the ground. It is believed that no full-scale version was built in Cayley's lifetime but in 1973 a reproduction was built for a television programme in the UK which flew successfully under tow. This design featured a fixed tailplane with separate moveable rudder for stability, a feature of later successful powered flying machines.

Model History

This model of Cayley's 1852 'governable parachute' was commissioned by the Museum and built by Mr R.D. Ramsay. It was delivered in 1962.

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