Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE FIRST RECOGNIZED POWERED, heavier-than-air, controlled, sustained flight in the United Kingdom was accomplished by Samuel F. Cody’s British Army Aeroplane No. 1 on October 16, 1908. As with many “firsts,” each adjective is necessary in qualifying the achievement: Gliding was old-hat; balloons had been powered; tentative hops had already occurred; and bare modicums of control had been previously exhibited.

Originally a Top Secret project of the British Army, Cody’s aeroplane went through a number of variations. In fact, this is part of the tale here at SimanaitisSays: I too followed a circuitous route to my ultimate GMax/Microsoft Flight Simulator BAA Aeroplane No. 1. Cody’s evolving development was engineering- and performance-based; mine was serendipitous, depending upon what my sources revealed. Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits on both paths.

Samuel F. Cody has already appeared here at SimanaitisSays in “Samuel F. Cody—A Life Well Crafted.” An American showman, though no relation to William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Samuel F. Cody (born Cowdrey) had been a bison hunter, scout, and Wild West performer before receiving a British patent in 1901 for the Cody War Kite, towed behind ships and used for reconnaissance .

Samuel Franklin Cody, 1867–1913, Iowa-born Britain-adopted aviation pioneer. Like many pioneer aviators, Cody perished in an aeroplane accident.

Cody turned to powered balloon flight in 1907 with his Nulli Secondus (“Second to None”). Then came his British Army Aeroplane No. 1.

The Cody British Army Aeroplane No. 1, as it appeared in 1909. Image from Pioneer Aircraft 1903-14 (the Pocket Encyclopedia of World Aircraft in Colour series).

I started my GMax project with these views. Among features derived from the first-U.K.-flight 1908 BAA No. 1 are expansive biplane wingspan (52 ft. whereas the Wright Flyer span was 40 ft.), twin-pusher propulsion from an Antoinette V-8 (already used on the Nulli Secondus), Cody’s location aft of the engine, odd interplane radiators, and a lot of bamboo supporting one surface or another.

I love GMax projects of this sort, as everything is out in the open.

My first BAA No. 1, Cody’s 1909 version with features from several others. Image in Microsoft Flight Simulator Century of Flight.

Just as Cody kept fooling around with his BAA No. 1, both before and after its epic October 1908 flight, I keep encountering design choices depending on precisely which BAA No. 1 version I wish to model. Tomorrow in Part 2 we’ll see his several variations and my seemingly never ending “work in progress.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019


  1. Michael Rubin
    May 19, 2019

    So how does it “fly”?

    • Dennis Simanaitis
      May 19, 2019

      Those outrigger wheels at the wingtips weren’t just for appearance. My BAA No. 1 calls for modest initial throttle because of the landing gear’s relatively narrow track, that 52-ft. span, and the Antoinette V-8’s torque.

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