Inventor of the Science of Flight: Sir George Cayley By Born in 1773, Sir George Cayley essentially created the science of flight. Using scientific methods and keeping careful and detailed notes, Cayley became the first to identify the basic problems of heavier-than-air flight, the first to carry out basic aerodynamic research, and the first to discover that curved surfaces produce more lift than flat ones. In addition, he discovered the importance of streamlining and developed methods to balance an aircraft in flight. Before his death in 1857, Cayley built and flew a successful model glider, followed by a full-size, man-carrying glider. Click here to return to the Heavier-than-Air Flight Overview.