AEA Silver Dart First Controlled Powered Flight In Canada
February 23, 2012 by staff
AEA Silver Dart First Controlled Powered Flight In Canada, The Silver Dart (or Aerodrome #4) was a derivative of an early aircraft built by a Canadian/U.S. team, which after many successful flights in Hammondsport, New York, earlier in 1909, was dismantled and shipped to Baddeck, Nova Scotia. It was flown off the ice of Baddeck Bay, a sub-basin of Bras d’Or Lake, on 23 February 1909, making it the first controlled powered flight in Canada. The aircraft was piloted by one of its designers, John McCurdy. The original Silver Dart was designed and built by the Aerial Experiment Association, formed under the guidance of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.
The frame and structure of the Silver Dart were made of steel tube, bamboo, friction tape, wire and wood. The wings were covered with silvery Japanese silk; hence the name the “Silver Dart”. Its engine, supplied by Glenn Curtiss, was a reliable V-8 that developed 35 horsepower (26 kW) at 1,000 rpm. The propeller was carved from a solid block of wood. The aircraft had what is now called a canard or an “elevator in front” design. Like most aircraft of its day the Silver Dart had poor control characteristics; likewise, it had no brakes.
When the Silver Dart lifted off on 23 February 1909, it flew only half a mile, at an elevation from three to nine meters, and a speed of roughly 65 kilometres per hour (40 mph). The aircraft was the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to fly in Canada.
By the time the Silver Dart was constructed in late 1908, it was the Aerial Experiment Association’s fourth flying machine. One of its precursors, the June Bug, had already broken records. It won the Scientific American Trophy for making the first official one mile flight in North America. But the Silver Dart outdid this when on 10 March 1909, McCurdy flew the aircraft on a circular course over a distance of more than 35 kilometres (22 mi). The first passenger flight in Canada was made in the Silver Dart on 2 August 1909.
The Canadian Army was unimpressed at the headway made by the group. The general impression of the time was that aircraft would never amount to much in actual warfare. Despite official scepticism, the Association was finally invited to the military base at Camp Petawawa to demonstrate the aircraft. The sandy terrain made a poor runway for an aircraft with landing wheels about 2 inches (51 mm) wide. The Silver Dart had great difficulty taking off. On its fifth flight on 2 August 1909, McCurdy wrecked the craft when one wheel struck a rise in the ground while landing. The Silver Dart never flew again.
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