Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) was first to design an aerofoil and one of his flying machines made the world’s first manned heavier-than-air flight at Brompton Dale, near Scarborough, in 1849. This was more than 54 years before the Wright brothers made the first powered flight from Kitty Hawk Sands in the USA on 17 December 1903. Another machine, which Cayley called a ‘governable parachute’, was flown in 1853 at Brompton Dale, carrying Sir George’s coachman, who on coming back to earth said, “I wish to give notice, I was hired to drive not to fly”.
The Museum’s replica, based on the ‘governable parachute’, was built in 1974 for a television programme about the life of Sir George Cayley. The glider was towed into the air at Brompton Dale by a car with test pilot, Derek Piggott, at the controls. Ten years later, the Cayley Glider flew again for the IMAX film, ‘On the Wing’.
The glider was on display in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry until 1998 when it was transported to Elvington, only 25 miles from Brompton Dale. After renovation by a Museum member, the glider was officially unveiled and placed on display at a ceremony attended by descendants of Sir George Cayley.