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.

Please note: This notebook has been split into two parts. 


Volume three, part one of Sir George Cayley's notebooks (marked "Egypt") describes, amongst other things:

  • Pages 1 - 14 (Section 1): The weight of air, wheat crops, friction, bird wings, Sheffield steel, the velocity of air in collieries, a swinging plate anemometer and lime stone.
  • Pages 15 - 38 (Section 2): The boiler of a steam carriage, a test-rig of gunpowder motor and flappers, a whirling arm for testing streamlining and a whirling arm for large-scale testing of aerofoils.
  • Pages 39 - 54 (Section 3): The dimensions of bird specimens, cheap paint, plaster, diamonds, furnace lining, gunpowder pistons, charcoal burning exeriments and associated engine cylinder horse power measurements from steam engines.
  • Pages 55 - 69 (Section 4): The elasticity of India rubber, planetary equations, odylic fluid, the wheat crop in 1852, furnace lining, wire power in rings with experiments and calculations, plate iron leverage measurements and measurements of the thickness of tube versus strength.
  • Pages 70 - 83 (Section 5): The comparative weight of ice and snow, elasticity of India rubber, steam engine measurements & theoretical calculations, crow observation, the flapper propelled boy-carrying machine known as the old flyer, the strength of white cord, square to circular beams measurement and assessment, use of 'spirits of wine' for engine power with measurements and associated efficiency calculations.
  • Pages 84 - 127 (Section 6): The New Flyer and comparison with the Old Flyer, how to make a 'volute' of any given proportions, recipes for paste and liquid bleaching, plan & side views of improved riding rudder glider model, results with a glider, furnace lining, torsion in small iron rods, heron wing measurements, properties of ashes of straw leather and strops, agricultural statistics, furnace lining, Cayley's eye trouble, furnace lining and use of clay related observations from furnace, strength of iron chains experiments with cold temperatures, measurements for strength of chain, estimated performance of air engines, the weight of snow versus water, woodcock bird measurements and the estimate of height of atmosphere (77130 ft) using 10 stratums.


 1848-1855 (approx.)

Related Biography

 Sir George Cayley


The Old Flyer (The Boy-carrying Machine), The New Flyer (The Coachman-Carrier)

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