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  Stamps That Tell A Story  
  By Simine Short
Issue 10/2003


While we are celebrating the Wright Brothers' success in this centenary year of powered flight, Simine looks back further to the pioneer, Sir George Cayley, who designed his man-carrying glider in the 19th century and launched it in 1853

In 1978, the Postal Service of Dominica issued a set of stamps and a souvenir sheet for the 75th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first sustained, controlled, powered flight. The souvenir sheet shows a well-known poster from the early 20th century, and several pioneering designs of flying machines. With the 100th anniversary now being celebrated around the world, I thought it may be of general interest to discuss over the next few months stamps which honour some of the early pioneers of aviation who attempted flight, mostly using gliders.

Date of issue: July 10, 1978. Country: Dominica. Title: 75th anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright brothers.

Derek Piggott flying the first Cayley replica for an I-Max film made in the mid 1980s.


This month’s souvenir stamp sheet was issued not only to honour the Wright Brothers' first powered flight, but to show, starting from the bottom left to the upper right hand corner: Octave Chanute’s 1897 biplane (see the previous article), Sir George Cayley’s glider, the “Governable Parachute” of 1852, Igor Sikorsky’s helicopter, Jakob Degen’s ornithopter of 1809 which is generally considered to be the inspiration for Cayley’s classic paper on “Aerial Navigation,” and Clement Ader’s “Eole” of 1890, the first aeroplane to leave the ground under its own power.

A close-up of Cayley's glider from the souvenir sheet.

Sir George Cayley.

This article discusses the contributions of Sir George Cayley, who was born on December 27, 1773, and died on December 15, 1857. Most of his life was spent at Brompton Hall, near Scarborough, in Yorkshire, England. Historians agree tha