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 four of Sir George Cayley's notebooks (marked "motive power").

In this partially completed volume, the 'true inventor of the aeroplane' discusses the motive power of insects, seals, birds when using their webbed feet, crocodiles, fish, caterpillars centipedes and millipedes. Cayley also discusses head to tail actions, body shapes and flower design.


 1793 (approx.)

Related Biography

 Sir George Cayley

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