National Geographic : 1953 Dec
->John A. D. McCurdy Pilots Silver Dart Over Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia, February 23, 1909-First Airplane Flight in Canada and British Empire While the Wrights prepared to demonstrate their Flyer to an eager Europe, another group of pioneers was York, and later at Baddeck. This was the Aerial Ex periment Association, organized by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and financed by Mrs. Bell. The illustrious inventor of the telephone had experi- .. mented for years with enormous tetrahedral kites, hop ing to find the proper design for a powered heavier than-air craft. Believing in group research, he gathered around him in 1907 F. W . Baldwin and John A. D. McCurdy, young Canadian engineers; Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge (page 743); and Glenn H. Curtiss, a motor man in the world." Together these men built and flew four airplanes, all equipped with Curtiss's powerful light engines. McCurdy designed Silver Dart, last of the Association's four planes. The five associates devised a hinged wing tip, a kind of aileron, whose movements controlled the plane later ally. The aileron, developed in the United States. . proved more practicable than the Wrights' method of warping, or twisting, the trailing edge of the wing and became standard on all planes. However, the Wrights charged that the aileron infringed the basic principle of their wing-warping patent, and the courts sustained them. Although the Association disbanded in 1909, it left a profound influence. Curtiss went on to become famous for flight records and for plane and engine design and manufacture. O II. M. Penner N i . YI.I lnnerl 744 ('ourtesy('harlesW. K. McCurdy Drawn by Horse and Sleigh, Silver Dart Prepares to Make History's First Ice Take-off The sun was shining on Canada's Baddeck Bay on the morning of February 23, 1909. Nearly 150 citizens of near-by Baddeck skimmed along on skates or stood talking in little groups. Presently a sleigh glided across the ice, towing the latest product of that group of inventors who worked at Dr. Bell's place, Beinn Bhreagh, which still overlooks the bay. Instead of skids, the new plane had a three-wheel undercarriage, and its wings tapered. While Dr. Bell and the citizenry watched, Silver Dart sped across the ice, kicking up a cloud of snow as it took to the air. With John A. D. McCurdy at the controls, it flew across the wintry landscape for half a mile. McCurdy, today the senior living pilot in the Commonwealth, can lay claim to a long string of aviation achievements. While working with Dr. Bell and the Aerial Experiment Association he became the sixth man in the United States to pilot a heavier-than-air machine. In 1910 McCurdy won the world's biplane speed record at the second International Aviation Meet, in Belmont Park, New York. That same year he sent the world's first wireless from a plane aloft, the message going to the New York World. In 1911, above Daytona Beach, Florida, he received the first wireless from ground to aircraft. McCurdy gave many demonstrations at premier aviation meets in Mobile, Atlanta, Norfolk, San Diego, and other cities. The Mobile Register reported on November 27, 1910: "McCurdy blew up a battleship yesterday. That is, he would have blown one up if the oranges he threw from his aeroplane had been filled with nitroglycerin and if the 12-foot squares of canvas lying on the ground in front of the grandstand ... had been the funnels of a man of war." From 1947 to 1952 McCurdv served with distinction as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.