He worked for the Yorkshireman, Sir George Cayley, sometimes called the Father of Aviation, who carried out the first truly scientific study of the way that birds fly.
Cayley correctly described the principles of weight, lift, drag and thrust that govern flight and built a series of prototype flying machines, including some with flapping wings powered by steam and gunpowder engines.
He demonstrated the world’s first model glider in 1804 and a full-sized version five years later, but it wasn’t until 1853 that he felt confident enough to attempt a flight with a human passenger.
This took place at Brompton Dale, near Scarborough, when Cayley coerced the chary coachman to steer the contraption across the valley.
The coachman reputedly handed in his resignation immediately after he landed saying, ‘I was hired to drive, not fly’.
A replica of Cayley’s glider successfully repeated the flight in 1974 and is now on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum.
If you click on the photo above (from Airliners.net) you’ll see that it had spoked wheels which were another of Cayley’s many inventions and one that also contributed to the development of the cycle and the car.