Born in 1799, John Stringfellow became acquainted with the lacemaking Henson family when he apprenticed with a lacemaking manufacturer. He grew interested in balloons during that time and became friends with William Henson through their common interest in flight.
Stringfellow helped develop a lightweight steam engine
- © 2001 National Air and Space Museum,
He joined Henson as a partner in the Aerial Transit Company. They also signed a joint agreement to "construct a model of an Aerial Machine." Stringfellow was responsible for the engine. However, the model failed and Henson lost interest and moved to the United States.
Stringfellow took a break from his aeronautical pursuits until 1868 when he came up with the design for a triplane. He constructed a model, which he exhibited at the world's first exhibition of flying machines, held at London's Crystal Palace under the sponsorship of Britain's new Aeronautical Society. His triplane caught the attention of the public and, although it was never built, influenced future designs.