The Silver Dart Flies Again

When the average person is asked about the accomplishments of Alexander Graham Bell he or she will probably lift up a cell phone. However in Canada he is known for his accomplishments with voice transmissin and providing the very first heavier-than-air air machine to ever fly in this country.  For over thirty years Bell spent his  summers in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, with his wife and family but he brought his work with him. This included the world’s first hydrofoil and an airplane built under his direction by the Aerial experimental Association in Hammondsport, New York.

In 1909, after successful tests in the U.S., Bell had his craft, dubbed The Silver Dart, disassembeld, crated and shipped to Nova Scotia for trials here. When assembeld the aircraft had a wingspan of 14.9 meters and weighed in at 390 kilograms including the pilot, who had to be careful about his weight.

On February 28th, the aircraft was dragged to the ice of Bras D’Or Lake by a team of horses. The plane was constructed of wood with a silk fabric covering over the wings and powered by a Curtiss, water-cooled engine that developed 40 horsepower. This engine sat on the back of the plane and the propellorwas desgned to push the craft.

The next day,  February 23rd, J.A.D. McCurdy, an engineer who worked with Bell, made history by piloting the first powered airplane a British subject within the British Empire.

If you fast-forward 100 years there is a former-Canadian astronaut, Bjarni Tryggvason, who just finsihed the trials of a modern Silver Dart.  Closely modeled after the original airplane Tryggvason got his version a few meters off the ground at a test run in Hamilton, Ontario. Now the “pilot to the stars” is packing up his craft and shipping it to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, to fly this crude machine into the very airspace where McCurdy thrilled Bell and a host of Canadian and foreign onlookers.

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