Up, up and away...

Submitted by alkirtley on Thu, 11/21/2019 - 17:31


In 1831 Henry Ralph Beaumont, great-grandson of Diana Blackett, married Catherine Cayley, daughter of Sir George Cayley. Sir George was a Fellow of The Royal Society, and in 1853 organised the first true (though non-powered) aeroplane flight in history, 50 years before the Wright brothers, at Brompton Hall, Yorkshire. Rather than fly the monoplane himself, he instructed his coachman, John Appleby, to pilot it. After the inevitable crash, Appleby gave notice to his employer, stating “I was hired to drive, not to fly!” Some sources claim the pilot was Sir George’s grandson, but whoever flew the aircraft was perhaps fortunate in that Sir George was also the inventor of the seat belt.

Sir George helped to found the Royal Polytechnic Institution, now the University of Westminster. After earlier flights of a replica of his 1853 machine, now on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum, a second replica was flown by Richard Branson in 2003.