The Monday Book – Colonel Cody

Jack gets to do the Monday book again – –

The Monday Book: Colonel Cody and the Flying Cathedral by Gary Jenkins

Regulars will know that I have a fascination with air travel, and particularly early air pioneers. Jenkins tells the story of a remarkable one, an American who became British and made the first powered flights in the UK.

The research is deep and impressive and the writing carries the reader along at a clip. Cody’s story is amazing, but he seemed to have encountered a fair bit of anti-American attitudes while he was trying to interest the UK Government in his inventions. These inventions ranged from balloons to kites carrying people, and then aeroplanes. But he was a classic showman, got the public behind him, and eventually did win over the war office as well. He even tried to suggest he was related Buffalo Bill Cody at one point but since the ‘Colonel’ had adopted the name that didn’t go anywhere.

I was aware of Cody’s planes and knew he was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers and French experimenters. But I didn’t know very much about him. The movie ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’ is clearly based on one of the competitions he took part in, and the American cowboy character is obviously meant to be him.  

Sadly, he died in a crash in his latest machine along with his assistant just before the 1st world war broke out. If he had lived, he might have been much more recognized!

For anyone who is interested in the history of aviation, I can thoroughly recommend this book.

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