J.A.D. McCurdy’s “Drome No. 4, Silver Dart,” First CDN Take-Off & Flights During Feb., 1909.

Aerial Experiment Associations H.Q., at G. H. Curtiss Mfg., Co., Hammondsport, N.Y., ended December 1908, relocated to “Beinn Bhreagh,” in Victoria County, Nova Scotia.

The Bell’s christened the land, estate, in Gaelic, meaning ‘Beautiful Mountain,’ purchased in ca 1886-7, their vessel headed for Newfoundland in 1885, accidentally grounded discovering one of Cape Breton’s wonders, Bras d’Or Lake. Although the Bell’s were on a cruse vacation, up the North American eastern coast, their destination was mainly too observe and report on Mabel’s father mining operation investment. While the estate was mainly their summer retreat, at times living year round especially in the latter, agitated by the fast pace of Washington.

The 600 acres (242.8 hectares) estate, first residence constructed by the Bell’s was the “Lodge” in 1888, the second larger home, “Beinn Bhreagh Hall,” was known by the surrounding inhabitants as “The Point,” completed in 1893. They constructed a wharf, houseboat, and Prof., Bell’s laboratory nested ca 40 feet (12.144 m) above the water-line, within similar distance off the rock cliff shore near, “Beinn Bhreagh’s Little Habour.” All of the above mentioned overlooked the peninsula of Bras d’Or Lake, across the bay, facing Kidston Island was the village of Baddeck, founded in 1908. Driving distance from Beinn Bhreagh to Baddeck 6.66 mi (10.72 km) via Beinn Bhreagh Rds, straight distance on water by boat, 1.71 mi ( 2.75 km).

The Mi’kmaq called the peninsula located in the Northern Basin, “Megwatpatek”, meaning “Red Head,” owing too the reddish sandstone rocks at its tip, while some support the word “Abadak”, is a “place with an island near,” later named Kidston Island.

The Village of Baddeck’s seeds rooted during 1839 as two families settled inland, years passed and grew, the neighbouring island inhabitants named the small settlement, Baddeck. The first settler in 1829 was Joseph Campbell developing the small community as its first post master; by 1940 Robert Elmsley and Charls J. Campbell arrived in 1941. Both employed by William Kidston, operating the mercantile business on Kidston Island, later Kidston became the village’s postmaster replacing Campbell. Joseph ventured, organising his own mercantile company which latter lead into a successful shipbuilding enterprise. This propelled the village of Baddeck forward, providing steady work as the economy grew, established as a port of trade for the village and surrounding communities, exporting their goods. Known as “Little Baddeck”, was part of Cape Breton County, until 1851, named after the ruling Queen, proclaimed Victoria County on April, 1851, organized the first “Court of Sessions,” in the latter a Municipal Council. With eleven “Justices of the Peace” later known as Councillors, elected a “Custos Rotulorum,” Warden of the County, Murdoch MacAskill of Little Narrows. By 1858 the Donlop’s, Catherine and David a superintendent part of business venture connecting Cape Breton with Newfoundland by telegraph cable settled. Seeing the need and financial gains from the growing community, they constructed a hotel and combined David’s telegraph H.Q., office in the same building, latter to be known as the Telegraph House on Main Street. Industry, businesses expanded by 1870’s, the amount of inhabitants increased too ca 1800, and 1875 the number of Councillors in Victoria County numbering twenty-two, elected Warden, William Kidston. According to Victoria County Heritage & Archives account:— In 1879, the Province passed the “Rural Municipalities Act” which instituted the form of municipal government as it is at the present time, with Councillors from each district and an elected Warden.  The first Municipal Council session was held in January, 1880, and it consisted of sixteen Councillors from the various districts of the County.  The first Warden elected by Council was Dr. John L. Bethune, a resident of the Village of Baddeck.

When the Bell Family arrived at Baddeck they registered and were logged throughout that summer at the Telegraph House. Mainstream accounts claim Pro. Bell was lured to that location owing to Warner’s “Baddeck and that Sort of Thing,” mesmerised by the area especially, “Read Head,” splendidly seen from the Telegraph House. From documents, although other historians etc., might have a difference of opinion, after two summer vacations by 1887 he purchased the land and made it his summer retreat, constructing his first home “Lodge” in 1888.

It’s ironic, (strange, odd, funny), by 1909 Bell’s documents reveals, the first individual who was successful in patenting the telephone, did not posses one at his summer home “Beinn Bhreagh Hall, aka The Point.” Constantly traveling into town by boat, horse drawn sleigh, or motor car, too make calls and send telegrams on Main Street when needed.

Pro. A.G. Bell:— The following bill was received at McKay and MacAskill & Co. envelope, it having been addressed to us by McKay who received it from Dave Dunlap, the mail-man who in turn received it from McDonald at Iona…..On January 26, (1909), I went over to town for the purpose of telephoning MacDonald from McKay’s store.

Aerial Experiment Association, Aerodrome No.4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart Trials at Stony Brook Farm ½ mile racetrack near Hammondsport N.Y. late Dec. 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association, Aerodrome No.4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart Trials at Stony Brook Farm ½ mile racetrack near Hammondsport N.Y. late Dec. 1908.

 

Bulletin No. XXVI Issued Monday Jan. 4 1908, Beinn Bhreagh, Near Baddeck, Nova Scotia:—  

 BELL’S VISIT TO HAMMONDSPORT, December 28, 1908:— I spent Sunday and Monday (Dec. 20 & 21) at Hammondsport, N.Y., and examined with interest our Drome No. 4, McCurdy’s Silver-Dart, and our Drome No. 3, Curtiss’ June Bug, placed upon floats and renamed the Loon. On Sunday, Dec. 20, three gentlemen from a distance appeared in Hammondsport to witness any experiments that might be made for my benefit. These were Mr. Means of Boston, the Editor of the Aeronautical Annual; Mr. E.L. Jones, Editor of Aeronautics; and Mr. Kimball, the Secretary of the Aeronautical Society of New York. Drome No. 4, McCurdy’s Silver-Dart, is certainly a beautiful machine entitled to the highest commendation. The new engine looks most efficient. We went out to the race track on Sunday afternoon to try the Silver-Dart although there was rather more wind than was desirable and the weather was very cold. The tent in which the machine had been housed had been taken down and a wooden building, almost completed, had been substituted. This had been done on account of the high winds that had prevailed which threatened to wreck the tent and incidentally, the machine. The wisdom of there wooden building was made manifest by occasional gusts of wind striking the tent cloth that covered the open side of the unfinished building with such force as to show that there would have been great danger of injury to the machine in an unprotected tent.

About sundown on Sunday, Dec. 20, the wind died down sufficiently to enable experiments to be made. There was still, however, a breeze of I should think about 6 miles an hour blowing down the valley towards Lake Keuka. On account of the limited space available for manoeuvres in the valley higher up than the race track, it was not considered advisable to attempt flying the machine against the wind in that direction. The attempt was therefore made to go with the wind down the valley towards Lake Keuka. The engine and propeller seemed to work well and the machine made a fine run on the ground, but when McCurdy elevated the front controls the machine only rose sufficiently to clear the raised side of the track and immediately came down in the field beyond running some distance over the snow before the engine was stopped……… Curtiss and McCurdy thought that greater propelling power would be obtained with a new propeller they had on hand. This was installed on the Silver-Dart on Monday, Dec. 21, but weather conditions, prevented any trial of the machine on that day before I left, and I have not heard of greater success having been attained since. In my opinion the trouble lies in the engine and not the machine. The engine is too heavy for that machine. I am also inclined to think that the center of gravity is too far forward for safety in the event of the loss of headway. The machine itself is beautifully 8 constructed and I have no doubt that with a lighter engine or a considerable increase in propelling power, and with the center of gravity placed somewhat further back the Silver-Dart will prove to be the finest flying machine ever constructed.

Aerial Experiment Association, Aerodrome No.4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart Trials at Stony Brook Farm ½ mile racetrack near Hammondsport N.Y. late Dec. 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association, Aerodrome No.4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart Trials at Stony Brook Farm ½ mile racetrack near Hammondsport N.Y. Nov. 1908.

 

LETTERS FROM MEMBERS.

To A.G. Bell, Washington, D.C. Hammondsport, N.Y., Dec. 16, 1908:— Your message was not received last night in time to get the patent papers away. We are sending them this morning, they should reach you tomorrow morning. May we expect you here within the next few days? If not, shall we see you in New York on your way back? We hope you will find it possible to come here. I think we can make experiments with both machines while you are here. The “Silver-Dart” will be ready again to-day with its new 8 ½ foot pitch propeller. The experiments have shown that there is as much slip with an 8 foot propeller as with a 6, notwithstanding the double area covered by the blades. Although we have much more propeller push we do not seem to have the necessary speed and have, therefore, increased the pitch of the propeller. Full description and photographs of trials to date have been sent for the Bulletin. We are fitting hydroplanes on the pontoons so as to give this another trial when we are through with the “Dart”. The weather here is very good, and I hope you will find it possible to come up. The train, you know, leaves at 7.05 P.M. and we can meet you at Elmira. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

To Mrs. A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Dec. 17, 1908:— ***This morning as we have already telegraph you (and received your very nice reply) we had a try out, with a new propeller of much greater pitch, giving even at reduced revolutions (668 per minute) a greater pitch speed than we had before. The first flight was great. The balance is so good, and the controls all work so well that it is a pleasure to sit in the machine every minute of the time you are flying. She leaves the ground after traveling 150 feet exactly at the moment you want it to. She seems so light and buoyant. I did so wish that you and Mr. Bell could have been here. She flew down across the old potato patch and then I shut her off because we wanted to look things over before trying a longer flight. Everything was O.K., so we ran her back under her own power and started again this time with the intention of making a turn. I bungled it however, and just as the turn was completed the starboard wing touched the ground and the machine spun round and broke the wheels. The breaks, however, are things than can be repaired in an hour, and so in the afternoon all the substitute wheels and sheets were prepared and to-morrow morning we will try again. I think we will be more successful. It is snowing hard at present; there is about two inches of snow. I don’t think however, that this will affect our starting. (Signed) J.A.D. McCurdy.

Aerial Experiment Association Shed under construction for Drome No. 4 McCurdy Silver Dart, near Baddeck Nova Scotia, Jan 27th 1909.

Aerial Experiment Association Shed under construction for Drome No. 4 McCurdy Silver Dart, near Baddeck Nova Scotia, Jan 27th 1909.

 

To Mrs. A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Dec. 17, 1908:— ***The two flights John made were very good indeed. The first landing was voluntary on account of a new fence which we did not want to bring the machine back over. In the second trial John attempted too short a turn and was forced to land, striking one of the wings and breaking the wheels. A great deal of time has slipped by with seemingly not much accomplished of late. I must say, however, that nothing has interfered with the work of the Association. The entire shop has been at its disposal, and everything else has been put aside when necessary to get work out for the flying machines. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

War Department, Washington, D.C., Dec. 17, 1908:— A telegram has just been received at this office from Mr. J.A.D. McCurdy, Secretary of the Aerial Experiment Association, informing us of two successful flights of the “Silver-Dart” to-day, one of them extending one mile and three-quarters. Permit me to extend congratulations on this important achievement, and I regret that, due to pressure of public business just a t s present, it is not possible to have an officer of the Signal Corps present during these tests. (Signed) James Allen Brigadier General, Chief Signal Officer of the Army.

To Mrs. A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Dec. 22, 1908:— *** Mr. Bell left yesterday after a day’s stay. We had a most profitable and interesting time. Mr. Means, Editor of the Aeronautical Annual, Mr. Jones, Editor of Aeronautics and Mr. Kimball of helicopter fame, were her. We did not get off very good flights. I will write a little later about that, we may do something yet today. To-morrow we shall start crating the “Silver-Dart” for shipment to Baddeck. The engine will follow as soon as the “Loon” with its hydroplanes are tried and some shop tests made which, however, will not take long. I am sorry we could not have finished up and gone back with Mr. Bell. We should have liked very much to have been with you during the holidays. Wishing you a merry Christmas, I am. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

To Mrs. A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 2, 1909:— John is planning to leave this afternoon for Baddeck, although we have not had an opportunity to try the “Loon”. Everything has been ready now for some time awaiting favorable weather conditions. Lucien and his school-mate were here for a day or two last week, and I believe John is going by way of Toronto. I am sorry we could not have made the tests with the “Loon”, but it is pretty slow business in the winter time when you have to wait a week or more at a time for a good day and then something may happen to prevent a successful trial. We are preparing to ship the “Silver-Dart” to Baddeck. The crates are made and we will start taking it down to-morrow. We have delayed this a little thinking we might get a chance to give it another trial. There has been a lot of problems, especially with propellers, which were hard to figure out. We have had no trouble with the engine of late, except for the freezing up at the time Mr. Bell was here; in fact, the only real engine trouble we have had was the cylinders blowing off. We will bring the engine to the shops and give it a thorough test before shipping it to Baddeck. We have kept the motor in one machine or the other nearly all of the time, and have not had any opportunity to make any long runs. As soon as this can be done I will come to Baddeck.

  • (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Curtiss to Mrs. Bell, Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 4, 1909:— Everything right here. McCurdy left to-day via Toronto. Have written.

  • (Signed) G.H. Curtiss
Aerial Experiment Association Shed under construction for Drome No. 4 McCurdy Aerial Experiment Association J.A.D. McCurdy's Silver Dart, Shed completed near Baddeck Nova Scotia, Feb 1st, 1909.

Aerial Experiment Association Shed under construction for Drome No. 4 J.A.D. McCurdy’s Silver Dart, completed near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Feb 1st, 1909.

 

Letter: Curtiss Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 7, 1909 to J.A.D. McCurdy, Baddeck, N.S.:— The machine got held up in Bath by being too big for the express car. It was forwarded on to Niagara Falls by freight, and will go from there by express if it will go in the car, otherwise, freight. We are getting ready to work out the 8 cylinder and will give it a brake test before shipping………. Since reading the last Bulletin, I am sure it would be wise to make a brake test of the engine before shipping it. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Conferences, Jan. 8, 1909:— The New Year is always a time for making good resolutions, and the members of the A.E.A., present at Beinn Bhreagh, have come to the conclusion that it would be a good plan in the future that the desultory meetings they have held in the headquarters building should become regular daily meetings at 4 P.M., to talk over the work of the Laboratory and that a journal should be kept recording the points discussed. The first regular conference was held Wednesday Jan. 6; present, the Chairman Dr. A.G. Bell, and Mr. F.W. Baldwin. Also Mr. William F. Bedwin, Superintendent of the Laboratory, and Mr. Gardiner H. Bell, Asst. Editor of the Bulletin. Mr. J.A.D. McCurdy, Secretary of the A.E.A., arrived at Beinn Bhreagh this morning (Jan. 8) and was present at the third conference held this afternoon. A.G.B.

To A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 9, 1909:— Since reading in the last Bulletin about Baldwin’s brake test of the four cylinder motor, I am convinced that it will be best to make a thorough test of the eight cylinder before shipping it to Baddeck. We will also test a motor similar to the one you have as it is evident that Baldwin was not getting full power, although 10 H.P. at 1000 is not so bad considering that the engine at the time would speed only to 1400 idle. All the parts of the “Silver-Dart”, together with materials, tools, silk, etc., belonging to the Association, went forward by express Jan. 6th. After reaching Bath it was found necessary to send by freight as far as Niagara Falls on account of the size of the package. If the Canadian Express cars will accommodate it, it will go by express from there, otherwise it will go all the way through by freight. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

“Where are we at.” Jan. 11, 1909:— Where are we at! It will be a good plan for us to look back over the line of experiments to see clearly at what point we have arrived and what are the chief points we have now to consider. This is more particularly necessary now because we have arrived at a period of depression. We have had our ups and downs and we have now arrived at a point when we are, all of us, decidedly down. Curtiss has had an aggravating time with his engine. McCurdy couldn’t fly his “Silver-Dart” when he had important witnesses present and the “Loon” failed to rise from the water. Baldwin has been unable to get his new hydrodrome, the “Query”, to rise on her hydrosurfaces. I have planned Drome No. 5 to carry a man and an engine of the weight of a man, and the engine for which I have been waiting weighs two or three men, so that there does not seem much prospect for flying the machine as a kite as intended………A.G.B.

AEA's Drome No. 4 McCurdy's Silver, at a little greater distance away, off the Baddeck side of the Bay opposite the McCurdy Homestead, Feb., 24, 1909.

AEA’s Drome No. 4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart, at a little greater distance away, off the Baddeck side of the Bay opposite the McCurdy
Homestead, Feb., 24, 1909.

ACTION OF CITIZENS OF BADDECK RESPECTING THE FREE ENTRY OF THE “SILVER-DART”:

Reported by Wm. F. Bedwin, Supt. of Beinn Bhreagh Laboratory. Baddeck, N.S., Jan. 21, 1909:— The citizens of Baddeck realizing the importance of Dr. Bell’s experimental work to this community felt that it would be a mark of appreciation to use their influence, as a Town, with the Minister of Customs to admit free of duty the flying machine “Silver-Dart” which is being transferred from the Aerial Experiment Association’s Plant at Hammondsport, N.Y., to Dr. Bell’s Estate at Beinn Bhreagh, near Baddeck. The following telegram was therefore sent to the Minister of Customs:—

  • Baddeck, Jan. 16, 1909 To Hon. Mr. Patterson, Minister of Customs, Ottawa,

Canada. Citizens Baddeck very anxious that you allow free entry on experimental flying machine and apparatus for Dr. Graham Bell which arrived last night.

  • (Signed) K.J. McKay.

To this the following reply was received:—

  • Ottawa, Jan. 16, 1909. To K.J. McKay, Baddeck, N.S.

Have written Collector Baddeck respecting admission flying machine.

  • (Signed) J.W. McDougall. Commissioner Customs.

I could not get a copy of the letter to the Collector of Customs referred to in the above telegram, but have been informed that it says in substance, that there shall be no duty charged if machine is returned within two years. (Signed) Wm. F. Bedwin.

AEA's Drome No. 4 McCurdy's Silver Dart at Baddeck Bay as she was about to alight after her flight, with a portion of Beinn Bhreagh in the background Feb 23 1909.

AEA’s Drome No. 4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart at Baddeck Bay as she was about to alight after her flight, with a portion of Beinn Bhreagh in the background Feb 23 1909.

 

S.V.P. Owing too the size of the study-paper the below is a separate blog, chapter fallowing the timeline on what really accrued while the Silver Dart was transported from N.Y. to Canada N.S. debunking the status quo historian/author recycled account.

 AEA’s, J.A.D. McCurdy’s Silver Dart Cases Held Hostage at Iona, Awaiting $425.00 Payment.

 

Drome No.5 — Bell‘s Cygnet II., Feb. 19, 1909:— The new Curtiss engine has been installed on Drome No.5, and the ten foot propeller is ready for attachment. A large number of young people from the Baddeck Academy visited the Laboratory today and were shown the machine. I took advantage of their presence to give the aerodrome a specific name, and called it Cygnet the Second. It will now be known officially as “Drome No.5, Bell’s Cygnet II”. Mr. Brenner, a Hammondsport photographer, arrived at Beinn Bhreagh to-day in time to take a photograph of the assemblage. A.G.B.

FIRST TRIAL OF CYGNET II: Feb. 22, 1909:— We have waited long for the arrival of the new Curtiss engine to try an experiment with Drome No.5, Bell’s Cygnet II. At last it came and was duly installed last Friday (Feb. 19); but the smooth slippery ice upon which we depended had disappeared under about a foot of snow, so that the outlook for a successful experiment was disappointing. We were considering plans for clearing off a track when a rain-storm on Saturday (Feb. 20) saved us the trouble. Heavy rain and a comparatively high temperature began to melt the snow. On Sunday evening (Feb.21) the rain was succeeded by frost; so that to-day (Feb. 22) ideal conditions were presented for an experiment:— Glassy ice, no wind, and a beautiful sunshiny day. We therefore determined to make an experiment without waiting to test the ten-foot propeller that had been prepared, and ascertain the proper gearing for the engine. The inevitable fussing over minor details that always occurs at the last moment took up the whole forenoon, so that it was afternoon before all was ready. The results are recorded among the experiments noted in this Bulletin. It was hardly expected, on account of the great weight of the machine (over 950 lbs), that it would rise from the ice, and in this we were not disappointed! It is obvious however that the engine was overloaded with the ten-foot propeller at a gear ratio of 1–2 so that it did not give us its full power. A. G. B.

Aerial Experiment Association, Attempts to fly the Cygnet II at Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia Feb, c 23rd 1909.

Aerial Experiment Association, Attempts to fly the Cygnet II at Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia Feb, c 23rd 1909.

Bell’s Records Reveals: Mainstream recycled photograph and accounts for February 23, showing the Silver Dart taking off the icy surface, is actually a photo of the second flight, which unfolded on the 24th at Baddeck Bay, upon landing the Dart crashed.

The conception and construction, by AEA members in July 5th 1908 was first styled as “Aerdrome No. 4” its designated designer, engineer, was John Alexander Douglas McCurdy, of Baddeck Nova Scotia. Casey part of the second team was not at N.Y., during the birth, now named “Aerodrome No. 4 McCudry’s Silver Dart,” both were engineering graduates, of the University of Toronto. The motor was an old innovation from Langley, a water-cooled engine, constructed by Glenn Curtiss, which caused grief as the engine, etc., froze, plagued with engine, water, fuel lines, and battery issues.

The AEA a Canadian/US aviation team with only two successful long distance flights, and four “short-hopes” conducted with the Dart at H.Q. Hammonsport, New York, was dismantled and crated, transported by train, destination Nova Scotia. J.A.D. McCurdy at that time was recorded as being the twenty first individual; too ever fly off the ground in a gasoline powered machine. On 23rd February 1909, ca 1.00 pm the cold weather promoted crowds too huddled in small groups, as children skated around the aerodrome in astonishing curiosity. With hardly any winds at ground level noticed, as the previous day, onlookers, correspondents and invited guests were in greater numbers then the previous day, witnessing the experiment. At 3.00 pm stored in a shed, Silver Dart rolled out towards outer bay, and positioned facing wind a mile from the laboratory at Beinn Bhreagh shore. As he climbed, seated, cheering crowds surrounded the biplane, in front, onlookers filed in a straight line for 60 meters, blocking the advance down the track and preventing a gradual rise off the icy surface. AEA, Bell alarmed by the mayhem requested town’s police assistance, hastily deputised men in order to keep the area clear, safe from accident. The winds were blowing southeast that early afternoon, quickly shifting northeast as the engine was about to be started. This prompted relocation by laboratory staff on skates further up the bay, taking-off in direction of Beinn Bhreagh shore, unbeknown too some what had taken place; the engine’s buzz alerted everyone. J.A.D. McCurdy in No. 4 aerodrome “Silver Dart” powered engine, and took off over the sub-basin’s frozen surface, of Bras d’Or Lake. The machine gliding, speedup reaching ca. 90 feet., gracefully rose 10 feet and in no time reached 30 feet, airborne for three too nine meters off the ice, with a distance of 800m or 1/2” a mile, at speeds of 40mph or 65klm an hour. Nearing land and trees McCurdy in caution turned off his engine, gliding downwards for a landing. Reaching 10 feet from the ice, startled when he noticed two little girls skating directly in front of the drome. Not for his composure, control, averted a serious accident by steering clear to one side of both children, gracefully landed the Silver Dart. The crowed in jubilation, en masse, rushed towards McCurdy encircled he stated: “I promise I’ll do better tomorrow, if the weather conditions are good.” Although in the AEA recorded proceedings, a list of 147 witnessed this historic flight, there were more present.

McCurdy’s anecdote evening of the 23rd: “The morning of today was spent in getting the Silver-Dart ready for a trail flight. The transmission was hanged from four v-belt drive to a single chain drive which, it was anticipated, would not only give greater efficiency, but would be of less weight. The gear used was 18-24 or (3-4), the engine turning over 24 revaluations to the 18 revaluations of the propellers. We had 3 propellers. To decide which one was made on an iceboat, although this was not allowed to, advance during any of these tests. The propeller finally decided upon was one having a diameter of seven feet six inches and a pitch at the tip of 20-22 degrees. This propeller was not one of constant pitch speed. The Silver Dart was finally taken across the bay on the ice, and a start made on the spot just off Fraser’s Pond. In the fist trail, a gasoline line broke after the machine had travelled about 100 feet. Upon fixing this, a second start was made, which was very successful. The machine rose from the ice after traveling 100 feet, and flew at an elevation of about 10 to 30 feet directly east for a distance of half-a-mile. Landing without any jarring what so ever. The speed I should judge to be about 40 miles an hour.”

AEA's Drome No. 4 McCurdy's Silver Dart at Baddeck Bay Gives a distant view against the Beinn Bhreagh shore. The sleigh on the shore contains Mrs. Bell and her party Feb. 24th 1909.

AEA’s Drome No. 4 McCurdy’s Silver Dart at Baddeck Bay Gives a distant view against the Beinn Bhreagh shore. The sleigh on the shore contains Mrs. Bell and her party Feb. 24th 1909.

The Montreal Gazette 24th Feb., 1909, Halifax N.S. 23rd Feb.: “Alexander Bell says it was obvious from today’s experiment that McCurdy would have flown to an indefinite distance so long as the engine power held out. He came down very gently on the ice, after only a short flight, because he found that he was getting rather close to the shore, and feared running into land. Two little girls on the ice had a narrow escape from being run over by the machine when it came down.” A portion of the Militia Council, MP’s, etc., impressed by the memorable historic flight, would do “everything in its power to facilitate the work of experiments in aerial navigation”. While others remained implacably opposed, however mainstream recycled accounts paint a different portrait: 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 Petawawa to demonstrate the aircraft.

FIRST TRIAL OF THE SILVER-DART, Feb. 23, 1909:— The Curtiss engine was transferred from Cygnet II yesterday to the Silver-Dart, and this morning propeller experiments were made on the ice-boat machine to test which of the propellers we have would be most suitable for the experiment. A propeller 7 feet 8 inches in diameter was chosen which had been used upon the Silver-Dart in Hammondsport. In the afternoon the Silver-Dart was taken out on the ice of Baddeck Bay; and a large concourse of people from Baddeck were present. The congregation of people and teams upon the ice yesterday near the Cygnet II had shown the advisability of policing the crowd and keeping them scattered, and at a distance from the machine. Mr. Charles R. Cox, Mr. P. L. McFarlan, Mr. Fred McLennan, and Mr. John Arsenault were provided with the following notice, which they displayed to visitors wherever necessary.

NOTICE. In order to avoid the possibility of any accident visitors are requested to keep at a distance from the flying-machine Silver-Dart, and not congregate together on the ice. They should remain behind the machine, or well off to one side, and leave a clear field for the Laboratory Assistants. They should not on any account place themselves in the path of the machine in front. It would be dangerous to be struck by it.

  • Beinn Bhreagh, C.B. Feb. 23, 1909.
  • (Signed) Alexander Graham Bell Chairman Aerial Experiment Assoc.
AEA's J.A.D. McCurdy Second flight of the Silver-Dart on Baddeck Bay Feb. 24, 1909.

AEA’s J.A.D. McCurdy Second flight of the Silver-Dart on Baddeck Bay Feb. 24, 1909. This shows the Silver-Dart with McCurdy on board on its way to the starting place. It will be noticed that Mr. Curtiss, having no skates, has stolen a ride on the machine.

McCurdy’s Account:— The morning of to-day (Feb. 23) was spent in getting the Silver-Dart ready for a trial flight. The transmission was changed from the four V-belt drive to a single chain drive which, it was anticipated, would not only give greater efficiency but would be of less weight. The gearing used was 18–24 (or 3–4), the engine turning over 24 revolutions to the propellers 18 revolutions. We had three propellers; and to decide which one was to be used a series of tests was made on the ice-boat, although the ice-boat was not allowed to advance during any of the tests. The propeller finally decided upon was one having a diameter of seven feet 6 inches, and a pitch at the tip of 20°–22°. This propeller was not one of constant pitch speed. The Silver-Dart was finally taken across the Bay on the ice, and a start made at a spot just off Fraser’s Pond. In the first trial a gasoline pipe broke after the machine had traveled about 100 feet. Upon fixing this a second start was made which was very successful. The machine rose from the ice after traveling about 100 feet; and flew at an elevation of about ten-thirty feet directly east for a distance of about half a mile. Landed without any jar whatsoever. The speed I should judge to be about 40+ miles per hour. The machine was operated by J.A.D. McCurdy. McC.

Curtiss’ Account:— In choosing a propeller for the Dart to-day (Feb. 23) we tried the three which were available on the ice-boat, to determine which would be best suited for the purpose, the desired speed being about 800. The results were as follows:—

Propeller Speed Pull No. I 650 200 lbs. No.2 550 112 lbs. No.3 450 50 lbs. We chose No. 1, a remodeled Hammondsport propeller. By speeding the engine we got 825 (about) revolutions with this propeller, which proved plenty for the requirements.

No. 1 propeller was seven feet 8 inches in diameter, about seven inches wide and 20° at the tip, pitch decreasing towards hub (not perfect screw), and had a curved face of about 1 in 16. No. 2 propeller was seven feet four inches in diameter, about 8 ½ inches maximum width, and 22° ½ at tip, pitch decreasing towards hub, and had a curved face of about 1 in 12. No. 3 propeller was eight feet in diameter, 8 inches wide and 22° ½ at the tip and a perfect screw. This propeller only had a flat face. The Silver-Dart was given a most satisfactory trial to-day (Feb. 23). The speed was, I should judge, over 40 miles an hour; certainly more than we have had in any previous flights either with this or the other machines. The velocity of the wind was also greater than any in which we have attempted to fly before. G.H.C.

Mrs. Mabel Bell Letter, February 23, 1909 on the Silver Dart flight account.

Mrs. Mabel Bell Letter, February 23, 1909 on the Silver Dart flight account.

 

SECOND TRIAL OF SILVER-DART, Feb. 24, 1909:— All the records of the Association have been eclipsed by McCurdy’s magnificent flight of this morning of 4 ½ miles in the Silver-Dart. I have not time to write details as we are to try the Cygnet II again this afternoon with the Silver-Dart propeller. My press dispatches, and the following notes by McCurdy and Curtiss tell the tale. A.G.B.

McCurdy’s Account:— The second flight of a flying-machine in Canada took place this morning (Feb. 24) at Baddeck, when the A. E. A. Drome No. 4, McCurdy’s Silver-Dart, flew a distance of 4 ½ miles. Started off Fraser’s Pond, and headed up the Bay towards the Log Cabin. The turn to port was started there, making the circle as large as possible. Ran down Beinn Bhreagh shore crossed the sand beach at the plaster dump, and attempted a turn again to port just off William Taylors. The space was however found to be too small in which to completely negotiate the turn, and so a landing was attempted.

The machine, however, struck her starboard wing on the ice, and spinning round smashed a few struts and chords. One wheel also was broken. Curtiss No. 3 engine worked beautifully, not a skip all through the flight. The balance was about perfect, all the controls working well. The power developed was sufficient not only to drive the machine against a 5–6 mile wind, but also with it. The feel of the machine was the same both with and against the wind. McC.

 In one of the Records wrongly dated and corrected in Mrs Bell’s Souvenir Volume image 28: Second flight of the Silver-Dart over the ice on Baddeck Bay not Feb 23, Feb. 24, 1909, McCurdy Aviator. Picture, gives a near view of the Silver-Dart in the air (Feb.24) with McCurdy as aviator.

In one of the Records wrongly dated and corrected in Mrs Bell’s Souvenir Volume image 28: Second flight of the Silver-Dart over the ice on Baddeck Bay not Feb 23, Feb. 24, 1909, McCurdy Aviator. Picture, gives a near view of the Silver-Dart in the air (Feb.24) with McCurdy as aviator.

Curtiss’ Account:— The flight of the Silver-Dart to-day (Feb. 24) was the best ever made by the members of the A.E.A. Everything worked perfectly. The machine raised quickly but steadily, and covered a distance, around the Bay, of perhaps 4 ½ miles at the rate of about 40 miles an hour. McCurdy handled the machine perfectly, and the accident was caused more by a combination of circumstances, than by any fault of the aviator. G.H.C.

SECOND TRIAL OF CYGNET II, Feb. 24, 1909:— Unwilling to lose the opportunity of the ideal weather conditions prevailing to-day we transferred the engine and propeller from the damaged Silver-Dart to Cygnet II without awaiting the completion of the new nine foot propeller being made for her. Tried her on the ice just at dusk. Three starts were made, but she did not rise into the air. During the third trial McCurdy (the aviator) shut off power on hearing something in the machine snap suddenly. This turned out to be one of the guy wires attached to the engine-bed and running up to the ridge-pole. Why should this have snapped unless under tensional strain. And why should it have been under tensional strain unless the machine was beginning to lift the load of the engine off the ice. I look upon the snapping of the wire as an evidence that the machine had begun to reach a supporting speed. It might be well, before making further experiments, to test the tensional strength of the parts supporting the engine and man, by supporting the machine so as to allow the engine etc. to hang without touching the floor. In all our tests the engine part has been supported from below, whereas in actual flight it will be supported from above. A.G.B.

AVIATION:— By F. W. Baldwin: (A Lecture to be delivered by Mr. Baldwin at the University of Toronto, February 27, 1909): Altogether this machine has made over a hundred flights varying in length from long jumps to sustained flights of 2 ½ miles. On July 4th, 1908 she won the Scientific American Trophy for the first heavier-than-air machine to fly a kilometer (under test conditions). Although the “June Bug” was still in commission the Association built a new machine, McCurdy’s “Silver-Dart” which is equipped with a powerful water-cooled motor. The “Silver-Dart” made a flight of over a mile in Hammondsport, N.Y., and is now being used over the ice at Baddeck, Nova Scotia…………The usefulness of flying-machines in war ensures the continuous development of the Art of Aviation. The great military powers are afraid of the flying-machine, and the struggle to improve it must therefore go on. Self-protection demands more practical, more air-worthy and more efficient machines. Flight has been accomplished. The flying-machine is actually here and no great Nation can afford to neglect it.

  • F.W.B.
Photo illustrates the end of the experiment (Feb. 24), showing the condition of the Silver-Dart after landing. The damage is not as great as one would think from the photograph, and at the present date (Feb.26) the repairs have practically been completed.

Photo illustrates the end of the experiment (Feb. 24), showing the condition of the Silver-Dart after landing. The damage is not as great as one would think from the photograph, and at the present date (Feb.26) the repairs have practically been completed.

 

Mrs. Mabel Bell Letter, February 24, 1909 on the Silver Dart flight account.

Mrs. Mabel Bell Letter, February 24, 1909 on the Silver Dart flight account.

 

 

Spañard.

 

.

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