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Sir George Cayley

Sir George Cayley was born in 1773 in Scarborough England.

A wealthy landowner, Cayley is considered the father of aerial navigation and a pioneer in the science of aerodynamics. He established the scientific principles for heavier-than-air flight and used glider models for his research. He was the first to identify the four forces of flight--thrust, lift, drag, and weight—and to describe the relationship each had with the other. He designed the first actual model of an airplane and also diagrammed the elements of vertical flight. His major publication, "On Aerial Navigation," described the theoretical problems of flight. He suggested using multiple wings—biplanes or triplanes—to produce maximum lift with minimum structural weight. He recognized that curved surfaces (cambered airfoils) provided greater lift than flat surfaces.

Sir George Cayley (1773-1857)

Sir George Cayley (1773-1857)

Credits - Wright State University

Cayley's first full-size model in 1849 was large enough to support the weight of a boy. A larger model, built and flown in 1853, carried Cayley's coachman as a passenger. His work influenced many others, including William Samuel Henson, who designed the Aerial Steam Carriage that was based on Cayley's theories.

As well as his work in aeronautics, Cayley invented railroad and agricultural equipment. He patented a tractor that was called the "universal railway" in 1825 that became the Caterpillar tractor.

Cayley died in 1857.