Samuel Franklin Cody and his man-lifting kite
The image on the right below shows Codys with his man-lifting kite at Aldershot. The kite was intended to be used in war and was popularly known as the Bat.
Image courtesy of the Royal Aircraft Establishment
The kite was quite a complicated system. It consisted of a steadying kite or pilot kite. Connected to this were a series of lifting kites, which were responsible for actually lifting its human pay load. The number of lifting kites depended upon the wind conditions.
These lifting kites were attached to the main kite cable by towing rings. One of these rings was placed at the head of the kite and the other at the point at which the kite was towed, called the towing point. This towing point consisted of four-legged bridle.
As soon as the kites were released they would be blown, by the wind up the kite cable. The cable has a series of stops running up it. These stops were cone like in shape and they progressively became larger as they reached the top of the cable. The size of the cones corresponded to the size of the towing rings on the kites.
As the first lifter kite travelled up the cable, its larger towing ring would pass over the smaller cones until it reached its intended mooring point. At this point the cone was larger in diameter than the towing ring. The kite's travel would stop at this cone.
The next kite with a smaller towing ring would travel up the cable, passing over the smaller towing rings until it reached its mooring point. This continued until eventually the carrier kite which was attached to a trolley travelled up the cable. The trolley contained wheels which ran against the top of the cable.
Suspended from the trolley was the passenger carrying basket-car. The basket-car and its passenger were carried up the cable until they reached the lowest lifting kite where it would stop.
The passenger inside the car was able to control the rate of ascent and descent by operating a complex system of lines and brakes. The adjustment of these lines also allowed the basket to be aligned with the horizon, keeping the car and passenger in a horizontal position.
The image below on the left shows a patented drawing of Cody's field winch. The winch had interchangeable drums and was intended to be used to hold and release the kite cable.
The image below on the left shows Cody operating the winding gear at the Aeronautic's Society's 1903 kite competition held at Worthing. The image is courtesy of the Royal Aeronautical Society.