In his lifetime, Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) published just a few papers on the subject of aeronautics and many of his ideas are explored in five illustrated manuscript notebooks which were presented on permanent loan to the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1946 by Cayley's grandson Sir Kenelm Cayley.

The Society's Journal recorded at that time: "These notebooks and papers are unique in the history of aviation" and we are delighted to now be able to make them available though this site.


Volume two of Sir George Cayley's notebooks (marked "Egypt") includes descriptions, illustrations and discussion of:

  • Pages 5 - 22 (Section 1): Gunpowder experiments, charcoal combustion, aerial navigation, house washing experiments with a clay pot, cement and a French treasure story.
  • Pages 23 - 43 (Section 2): Steam piston design and measurement, battery design, a plaiting machine, wheat growing, cement making and rubble.
  • Pages 44 - 60 (Section 3): Seed sowing, coil wires, heat experiments, steam experiments, boiler deign and furnaces, a cutting wheel, crow experiments, tanden compound machine with flappers and tooth pain.
  • Pages 61 - 80 (Section 4): Beans, feathers and quills, pearls, porcelain, strength of iron, flapper testing, design of flying platforms and larch seeds.
  • Pages 81 - 98 (Section 5): Book shelves, electricity experiments and cleaning leather.
  • Pages 99 - 119 (Section 6): Cleaning leather, retina experiments, moon observations, nitric acid experiments, second and third whirling arm, air resistance measurements and air engine experiments.
  • Pages 120 - 152 (Section 7): Charcoal burning, sea birds, ginger beer, particles of elastic fluids, bones, a French calorimeter, chemical experiments, plaster casts, hardening plaster, Goatsbeard seed inspired parachute design and the effect of the dihedral angled wing, bird wing design, casting bronze and electricity.


 1812-1830 (approx.)

Related Biography

 Sir George Cayley


Tandem compound machine, Second whirling arm, Third whirling arm

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