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George Cayley

Born: 27-Dec-1773
Birthplace: Scarborough, Yorkshire, England
Died: 8-Dec-1854
Location of death: Brompton, Yorkshire, England
Cause of death: Natural Causes

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Inventor
Party Affiliation: Whig

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Father of aeronautics

Born to a borderline-wealthy family, Sir George Cayley was the Sixth Baronet of Brompton, and as such was well-educated and never had to worry about finances. He served in Parliament, and founded what is now the University of Westminster. A respected scientist in his time, he invented the tension-spoke wheel still used in bicycles, and designed the artillery shells used by the British against Napoleon Bonaparte's France. Cayley is best known for his extensive research into aerodynamics. As early as 1792 he designed a model helicopter that flew, and in 1804 he built a model plane that flew. In 1849 a heavier-than-air glider of Cayley's design lifted a small boy airborne for a few seconds, and in 1859 a larger version of similar design briefly carried a grown man, Cayley's coach driver.

Using kites and un-manned gliders Cayley explained design and structural details of wing composition and drew designs for an airship with a semi-rigid structure. His 1809 booklet Practical Remarks on Aerial Navigation explained the principles of flight in prophetically accurate detail, including why cambered airfoils (curved surfaces) provide better lift than flat surfaces, and how vertical and horizontal rudders could allow steering. He described the air as "an uninterrupted, navigable ocean that comes to the threshold of every man's door." Cayley himself never flew, and died more than a decade before Wilbur Wright's birth.

Father: Sir Thomas Cayley (Fifth Baronet of Brompton, b. 1732, d. 1792)
Mother: Isabella Seton Cayley (b. circa 1748, m. 1763, d. 30-Jul-1828)
Wife: Sarah Walker Cayley (b. circa 1773, m. 9-Jul-1795, d. 8-Dec-1854)
Daughter: Katherine Cayley Beaumont Legard (d. 12 Mar 1887)
Daughter: Emma Cayley Cayley (d. 2 Aug 1848)
Daughter: Isabella Cayley Style
Daughter: Sarah Philadephia Cayley Worsley (b. circa 1803, d. 23 Apr 1885)
Son: Sir Digby Cayley (Seventh Baronet of Brompton, b. 13 Mar 1807, d. 21 Dec 1883)

    High School: Hackney Collage (1793)
    Administrator: Chairman, University of Westminster (1838-54)

    International Aerospace Hall of Fame (inducted 1974)
    UK Member of Parliament Salford (1832-35)
    Knight of the British Empire

Author of books:
Practical Remarks on Aerial Navigation (1809)
A Letter on the Subject of Parliamentary Reform, Addressed to Major Cartwright (1818)
Aeronautical and Miscellaneous Note-Book (1826)


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