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“Bird Man”

07 Sep
The AEA Silver Dart in flight, J.A.D. McCurdy ...

The AEA Silver Dart in flight, J.A.D. McCurdy at the controls, c. 1910. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the anniversary of perhaps the biggest hoax in Canadian aviation.  J. A. D. McCurdy had flown the first airplane in Canada on February 23, 1909, at Baddeck, Nova Scotia.  Later in 1909, it was announced that Reginald Hunt of Edmonton had accomplished an even more remarkable feat.  Working alone, and without financial backing, he had built his own airplane and flown it over Edmonton for half an hour on September 7.  Newspapers published stories and pictures of Hunt’s exploit.

Actually, Hunt had made a balloon shaped like an airship, and not an airplane.  However, airplanes were so little known in 1909 that reporters called the airship an airplane, and the mistake was not discovered until years later when the National Research Council investigated.  There was also a picture of Hunt standing beside an airplane, but it turned out to be a French Farman, and not the balloon Hunt had flown.

McCurdy’s Silver Dart was built in the Curtiss bicycle workshop in Hammondsport, New York.  The honour of building the first airplane in Canada should go to William Wallace Gibson who was brought up on a farm near Regina.  He began building model airplanes in 1903 after reading that the Wright brothers had flown in the United States.  He devised a motor from the spring of a window-blind roller!

Gibson moved to Victoria, British Columbia, when he was twenty-seven and found a gold mine which he sold for $10,000.  He used this money to build a full-sized airplane, making every part by hand and using his own plans, although he had never had a lesson in drafting or engineering.  He even designed an unorthodox 50 horsepower engine and had it built by a Victoria machine shop.   It weighed 95 Kg (210 lbs.)  There were two propellers, one behind the other.  The pilot’s seat was an ordinary horse saddle!  Gibson’s plane took to the air on September 8, 1910, flew 60 Meters (200 feet) and crashed into an oak tree!  It was no mean feat.  The Wright brothers had flown only 64 Meters (210 feet) in their first try, and A. V. Roe in England flew less than one hundred.

If you would like to read about William Wallace Gibson, I highly suggest going to aumkleem’s blog for a comprehensive article.

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14 responses to ““Bird Man”

  1. Escaping Elegance

    September 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    As enjoyable as always!

     
    • tkmorin

      September 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you very much! 🙂

       
  2. L. Marie

    September 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Great post!!!!!

     
    • tkmorin

      September 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you very much! I love getting all those exclamation points! 🙂

       
  3. seeker

    September 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

    That is awesome. Even though it’s not built to last but it’s still to took off way better than the brothers. Good read.

     
    • tkmorin

      September 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks, P! What it would feel like to create something new that worked … 🙂

       
      • seeker

        September 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

        Well, I have used common sense not so much to create but make use of what was created that works for me. Try it, it’s a creative way of recycling. Have a good day, Tk.

         
        • tkmorin

          September 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

          Recycling … What a beautiful way to put it! Right now, I’m recycling the television and the computer! Later today, I plan to recycle the car … LOL 🙂

           
          • seeker

            September 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm

            Are buying new ones?

             
          • tkmorin

            September 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

            Oh no! Simply “recycling” the ones I have! LOL 🙂

             
          • seeker

            September 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

            You are so funny… thanks for the laugh.

             
  4. Coach Muller

    September 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Great read!! Thanks!

     
    • tkmorin

      September 7, 2013 at 11:56 am

      🙂 You’re welcome!

       

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