National Geographic : 1956 Aug
245 John McNeil. © Bell Family July 9, 1909: Baddeck I, a Craft Destined for Fame, Is Unveiled at the Bell Estate Dr. and Mrs. Bell financed two young Canadian engineers, John A. D. McCurdy and F. W . Baldwin, in the construction of pioneer aircraft. They formed the Canadian Aerodrome Company and built several flying machines. Baddeck I was the first successful aircraft made in Canada. Here guests of the company inspect the machine. A few hours later it was crated and shipped to Petawawa, Ontario, where McCurdy took it up on a maiden flight August 12, 1909, for the Canadian Army. The jet-power research, briefly described on page 227, was equally bizarre. Dr. Bell suspended his big rotor on a pulley and counterbalanced it with weights. A firebox heated alcohol to vapor, which rose through a pipe, entered small tubes in the blade, and emerged hissing from the tips. One can im agine the racket when workmen ignited these jets! Visitors will see this unique device promi nently displayed in the museum. Now, looking back, we realize that Dr. Bell's experiments with ingenious power sources were too far ahead of the technology of his day to have practical application. His jet theory was, in fact, more than 50 years ahead of his times. Only since World War II have we seen the development of helicopter rotors powered by jets at the blade tips. Rocket rotors are still in early experimental stages. Research with Multinippled Sheep A single project was never enough to pre occupy the inventor; he liked to work on others at the same time. So, while experi menting with helicopter blades, he also busied himself developing a flock of twin-bearing sheep.* He had noted that some of Beinn Bhreagh's sheep had rudimentary nipples in addition to two normal ones, and that these particular ewes gave birth to twins occasionally. By careful breeding he developed a strain that had as many as six nipples, all functioning normally. In time the multinippled ewes presented him with twin or triplet lambs in more than 50 percent of the births. Earlier the local farmers had laughed at his experiment; now they tried to imitate it. So solicitous was Dr. Bell of his sheep's health that he built them a little village of small houses atop Beinn Bhreagh and named it "Sheepville." There were numerous streets, and each had a name. "Nearly every day for some years," Mrs. Bell once wrote, "he conducted his sometimes rather reluctant family up the mountain, often through deep snow, to visit those sheep, and they became personally acquainted with Gen erals Grant and Lee, the first sires of the breed." Dr. Bell continued this research with un flagging enthusiasm for many years (page 255). After his death his daughters gave the * See "America's 'Meat on the Hoof,' " by William H. Nicholas, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Janu ary, 1952.