Cayley's glider, 1804.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Reproduction. Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) was a British inventor and the father of fixed-wing flight. In 1817 he concerned himself with airship design, but, as with his fixed-wing designs, it was his propulsion methods that let him down, with ideas such as releasing the airship from the ground at an angle so that it would sail off in the required direction; having sails wafted by a steam engine; or his favourite, flapper propulsion.