Prof. Alec & Mabel G. Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association Hatch on 1st Oct. 1907—Dec. 1908 Accounts.

The “Aerial Experiment Association’s” motto: “To get into the air”, was organised under the guidance of Dr. Alexander (Alec) Graham Bell, funded Halifax, Nova Scotia, inside Halifax Hotel 1st Oct., 1907, H.Q. Beinn Bhreagh Near Baddeck: Its members, “do hereby agree to associate ourselves together under the name of the “Aerial Experiment Association” for the purpose of carrying on experiments relating to aerial locomotion with the special object of constructing a successful aerodrome. We agree that the headquarters of A.E.A shall be at Beinn Bhreagh, near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and that on or before the first of January 1908, the headquarters of the ‘Association’ shall be removed to some place yet to be determined within the limits of the United States.”

Mainstream historians concur, A.E.A., was bankrolled by Mabel G. Bell, “The Little Mother of us All”, wife of the savant inventor, amounting to $35.000, a leading partner, from conception till formally dissolved on 31st March 1909. According too many mainstream historians’ narratives suggests, this was the total amount invested until termination. While Bell’s Papers,“Deposition of Alexander Graham Bell, Interference Case in the U. S. Patent Office:— THE AERIAL EXPERIMENT ASSOCIATION versus MYERS, 15th January 1915, confirms that amount. Bell Q 58: During the eighteen months of its existence the Association’s experiments exhausted: Bell A: “About forty-five thousand dollars, of which Mrs Bell contributed thirty-five thousand dollars. The money was contributed by Mrs Bell and myself in the interests of science, and to advance the cause of aviation, without any expectation of any financial return, and as a matter of fact, we have never received a cent. The whole idea of the formation of the Association originated with Mrs Bell, and she desired to support the expense of the experiments out of her personal estate.”

Aerial Experiment Association Aviation's Little Mother, Mabel Gardiner Bell, "The Little Mother of us All", photo ending 1909.

Aerial Experiment Association Aviation’s Little Mother, Mabel Gardiner Bell, “The Little Mother of us All”, photo ending 1909.

 The records are clear: Prior of being officially dissolved early March, Aerial Experiment Association assets at N.Y., were sold. Glenn Hammond Curtiss prepared for the next phase in aeronautics, organized the Herring-Curtiss Manufacturing Company. With six partners consisting of Mrs. Mabel G. Bell, “The Little Mother of us All”, the other five as fallows:—Elected chairman; Prof. Alec Graham Bell, selected as engineers, John Alexander Douglas McCurdy born at Baddeck appointed treasurer and Frederick Walker “Casey” Baldwin from Toronto designated as chief engineer. Glenn Hammond Curtiss of Hammondsport, motor constructor, chief executive and director of experiments: 1st Lieut. Thomas Etholen Selfridge, 5th Field Artillery, appointed by the US Army, military expert in “aerodromics,” secretary of AEA. Within months of its formation members moved their quarters near Curtiss’s motorcycle company at Hammondsport, New York. Thereafter Selfridge drome destroyed, with Bell’s one year main objectives concluded, the Lieut., “under orders,” appointed and joined the Wright brothers at Fort Myer, Virginia, Orville enraged over this action taken by the High Brass.

The Wright’s first heavier-than-air human flight 17th December, 1903 at North Carolina, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, near Kill Devil Hills, was conducted in secret, with five questionable witnesses, historians, scholars, alike, not forgetting in those times, question if factual. Mainstream recycled accounts state, Wright’s invented the aeroplane and controls, developing by 1904-05 Wright’s Flyer III, constructing the first fixed-wing air machine. What’s problematic, certainly not the first in experimenting with motor powered flight pre 1903, per-say, claims an individual from India achieved the first powered control flight. In 1876 Alphonse Penaud patented aeroplane, identical too modern planes: “developing a ‘Joy-stick’ controlling horizontal and vertical rudders, many moons prior too the Wright Brothers. Committed suicide at the young age of 30, fell into depression after failed attempts in securing financial backing, in manufacturing the aeroplane.

Aerial Experiment Association, Kite Cygnet I, on board her tender “The Ugly Duckling”, Lieut. Selfridge, dressed in oilskin, can be seen sitting on the tilting-frame of the “Ugly Duckling” Dec. 6 1907.

Aerial Experiment Association, Kite Cygnet I, on board her tender “The Ugly Duckling”, Lieut. Selfridge, dressed in oilskin, can be seen sitting on the tilting-frame of the “Ugly Duckling” Dec. 6 1907.

Alexander Mozhaiski in Russia constructed a steam-powered monoplane driven by one large “tractor” and two smaller “pusher” propellers. In 1884, it was launched from a ramp and remained airborne for 30 m (98 ft). Richard Pearse a New Zealand farmer in March 1902 in a powered aeroplane took off the ground for 350, later 1000 yards, is questionable, a critically scrutinised account. Gustave Weibkof, immigrated to the US changed his name to Whitehead engineered, built flying machines from 1897 to 1915. On 14th August 1901 with his No. 21 monoplane at Fairfield, Connecticut, flew off the ground in a controlled powered flight, first printed by Bridgeport Sunday Herald, cascading into a world-wide press despatch printed in countless of newspapers. By 17th January 1902, with a newly built No. 22 monoplane, claimed he attempted two successful flights with a 40 horse powered engine, twin tractor propellers controlled with a differential propeller speed control and rudder flew a 6.2 mile, (10K) circle. While the Smithsonian and others conceder Whitehead as not credible, and discarded by aviation historians for a centenary, in March 2013, Jane’s “All The World’s Aircraft” published editorial, concluded Whitehead conducted; “the first manned heavier-than-air craft, powered controlled flight.” Charles M. Manly in 1903 unsuccessfully tested the Langley Aerodrome covering a distance slightly over a kilometre with ample volunteer assistance.

Aerial Experiment Association Kite Cygnet I, on board her tender “The Ugly Duckling”, being towed into position, at Little Bras d'Or Lake by the Steamer Blue Hill. Lieut. Selfridge can be seen stretched at full length in the manhole of the Cygnet I, Dec 6 1907.

Aerial Experiment Association Kite Cygnet I, on board her tender “The Ugly Duckling”, being towed into position, at Little Bras d’Or Lake by the Steamer Blue Hill. Lieut. Selfridge can be seen stretched at full length in the manhole of the Cygnet I, Dec 6 1907.

While the Wrights are portrayed as being the first by mainstream history, and during 1910 Smithsonian recipients of the Samuel P. Langley Medal for Aerodromics; the Institute had a change of hart. On 6th May 1896, Langley’s Aerodrome No. 5, was successful with two unmanned flights, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft and size, launched over Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. That afternoon reached a distance of 1,005 metres (3,297 ft) with a second attempt of 700 metres (2,300 ft), at 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), landed on the water without incident. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell on 28th November 1896 witnessed and photographed, Langley’s Aerodrome No. 6 aka No. 4, “heavily modified,” flew a distance of 1,460 metres (4,790 ft). Langley’s trusted assistant, Charles M. Manly redesigned the engine into a five-cylinder water-cooled radial, delivering 52 horsepower (39 kW) at 950 rpm, a feat only duplicated in 1908 by AEA’s G.H. Curtiss. Noted, Langley first stumbled on 7th October into Potomac Lake, and December, both attempts met with the manned aerodrome crashing into the water. In the Wright brothers’ lawsuits, Curtiss in 1914 proving his patent argument, made 93 modifications to Langley’s Aerodrome, the Smithsonian was aware prior in attempting the flight. Samuel P., was the Institute’s secretary from 1887 till his death 1906, in conflict of interest, establishing Langley’s forgotten aeronautic endeavourers, legacy;  Smithsonian never publicly acknowledged Curtiss’ heavily reengineering of the aerodrome. Although conducted successful short experimental flights, without affect to the Wright’s lawsuit concerning U.S. patent expired 1917, “the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated a flying machine’s surfaces.” The Smithsonian with evidence supporting their narrative publicly proclaimed, Langley’s aerodrome, as the first heavier-than-air craft “capable” of manned powered flight. Later Langley’s aerodrome was proudly displayed, pamphlets printed and downgraded the Wright brothers’ 1903 flyer, supposed invention, to play seconded fiddle. The Wright’s early quest for flight, Wilbur requested and received assistance from Langley, the Smithsonian and others, without their help and guidance the supposed 1903 flight would’ve never taken place. Lorin Wright and Griffith Brewer learned of the modifications, witnessed, photographed, some of Curtiss’ short flights, hastily informing Orville prompting a feud lasting decades with the Smithsonian.

Kite Cygnet I in the air, towed by the Steamer Blue Hill, near Baddeck, N.S., Dec. 6, 1907, The vessel in the picture is the catamaran boat “The Ugly Duckling” from which the Cygnet arose. The Steamer Blue Hill is further to the right beyond the limits of the photograph. This illustrates a preliminary ascension of kite Cygnet I without any man on board.

Kite Cygnet I in the air, towed by the Steamer Blue Hill, near Baddeck, N.S., Dec. 6,
1907, The vessel in the picture is the catamaran boat “The Ugly Duckling” from which the Cygnet arose. The Steamer Blue Hill is further to the right beyond the limits of the
photograph. This illustrates a preliminary ascension of kite Cygnet I without any man on

Late 1898 Bell constructed and experimented with kites developing from an early interest in aeronautics, believed: The flying machine problem lies with designing a successful kite supporting a man and engine when driven by a motor in a ten-mile breeze at a rate of 10 miles an hour……There is no reason to believe that it would not rise when urged through the air by propellers. A kite then can be changed to flying machine by hanging a motor and propellers to it and dropping the stirring which attaches the kite to the ground.” The first kites constructed by Bell in 1898 were Hargrave box type, the standard kite used since invented, built by Australian, Laurence Hargrave in 1892. The duplicates constructed by Bell and used in experiments, the small ones flew very well, but their flying ability became poorer as their size increased; “a gigantic Hargrave with two cells as big as a small room would not sustain itself in the air, and experiments showed that only a hurricane could make it fly.” Bell undismayed by 1903, proclaimed, “I expect in a year or two a flying machine,” his failed and successful experiments invented the Tetrahedral Kite, the use of a motor was the next step.

15th November 1907 despatch from HQ Baddeck N.S.—Flying Machine is to be Towed. Bell Invention requires aid of tug to start and also to proceed afterwards:—For the purpose of conducting the preliminary tests of Dr. Graham Bell’s flying machine a float has been constructed which supports a cradle capable of being tipped in either direction. Dr. Bell says that on this cradle will retain the airship. The float will ten be towed behind a powerful tug and while going at high speed the cradle will be tipped and the airship, exposing for the first time its immense area of silken surface, will rise. A flying line from the tug will then provide it with the necessary momentum to keep it in the air. The line will also be used to contrive its flight. The navigator will be stretched out in the place provided for him, and will be employed in making observations. By taking into consideration the velocity of the wind and the pull on the flying line of the ship, the exact power required of the motor will be determined. Every member of the Arial Experimental Association in the United States, it is said, will be experienced in the manipulation and navigation of this ship.

The Kite Cygnet I, carrying Lieut. Selfridge in the man-hole, flying at an elevation of 168 feet over the Little Bras d'Or Lake, near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, towed by the Steamer Blue Hill. Photograph taken from the Steamer Blue Hill by Mr. J. G. Davidson, Dec.6, 1907.

The Kite Cygnet I, carrying Lieut. Selfridge in the man-hole, flying at an elevation of 168 feet over the Little Bras d’Or Lake, near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, towed by the Steamer Blue Hill. Photograph taken from the Steamer Blue Hill by Mr. J. G. Davidson, Dec.6, 1907.

The above press despatch failed too mention Bell’s airship was completed, conducting experiments with a representative of the United States War Department, Lieut. Thomas E. Selfridge. Although young, was considered by his peers an expert in the construction of the “heavier than air” flying machines detailed by the department in July. Ordered too investigate and report the feasibility of tetrahedral principal as applied to aerial navigation. Selfridge was obligated in submitting a report to the US Government in January 1908, felt quite sanguine on the results to be obtained, as Dr. Bell stated the problem at present was far from being solved: “Only the commencement of the work has been reached.” When asked concerning the Wright’s innovations at present date, responded as he chuckled, bluntly declared: “At the present time France is many years in advance of her competitors.”

Notes by Alexander Graham Bell, December 4, 1907, Wednesday At Beinn Bhreagh. (Dictated by A. G. B. to D. McC. Copied from Home Notes by M. B. McC. p. 194). Monday Dec. 2. A gale blowing, wind too strong to risk the “Cygnet” in. Tuesday Dec. 3. A good strong steady wind from W.S.W. First experiment with the “Cygnet”. The Blue Hill and the “Ugly Duckling” both anchored at their mooring places on the bay. I was rather under some apprehension that the “Gauldrie” would have experienced difficulty in towing the “Ugly Duckling” with the “Cygnet” on board to her mooring place, but it seems that she had none. Lieut. Selfridge went on board the “Ugly Duckling”, Douglas McCurdy on board the “Gauldrie”, and Mr. Baldwin and I accompanied by Mrs. Bell and Miss Mabel McCurdy went on board the “Blue Hill”. The “Gauldrie” picked up Mrs. Kennan. Other witnesses of the experiments in addition t? the crew of the “Blue Hill” and the Laboratory staff were:— Mr. McInnis, Mr. Byrnes, Mr. McNeil and John McNeil. Laboratory staff present so far as I can remember: — Bedwin, Inghram, Stewart, Watson, Ruderham, McKillop, McFarland, McAuly, Wilson McKay and McDonald. Blue Hill people: — Captain McRae, John Hannam, George Reed, Angus Morrison and the engineer Mr. Bleasdale. The Blue Hill towed the “Ugly Duckling”out into the Little Bras d’or Lake beyond the “Point” and then turned round against the wind heading for Kidston’s Island………..The Anemometer on board the “Blue Hill” (going full speed against the wind) registered 1320 rotations in half a minute corresponding to a wind velocity on the kite of 30 miles an hour. The pull on the flying line was greater than could be directly measured by one spring-balance so that we only know that it exceeded 208 lbs. Another observation of wind velocity while the “Cygnet” was in the air gave 30.56 miles per hour……….. The observation of pull, angular height of kite, and wind velocity were made by Mr. Baldwin on “Blue Hill”. (The Kite proper weighed 85.032 Kg. and the floats 9.400 Kg. Total 94.432 Kg. (208 lbs.). Flying weight 510 grams per sq meter (oblique) The kite was composed of 3393 winged cells having a surface of 183.6461 m 2. The bow was covered below with silk presenting the same dihedral angle as the cells equivalent to 1 m. Total oblique surface 184.6461 m 2 . In addition to this the bottoms of the floats gave a horizontal surface of 8 m but as the floats undoubtedly blanketed the lowest tiers of cells above them I will count the floats may be counted as dead load, and consider the whole surface considered as equivalent to 185m oblique. )

  • Weight 94.432 Kg.
  • Surface 385 m 2 oblique.
  • Flying Weight 510 gms. per m 2 oblique

By bringing the strain gradually on to the bow line the “Cygnet” was gently lowered into the water upon the stoppage of the “Blue Hill”. She floated well, head into the wind the 4 124 sea-anchor taking the water well. Then she was observed to be sinking on one side on account of a leaky float. The row-boat succeeded in reaching her in time, but had great difficulty in sustaining the sinking end of the kite until the “Ugly Duckling” came to the rescue. The corner of the kite was broken at this time and when the “Ugly Duckling” at last got hold of the kite some further damage to the structure occurred on account of the great load of water in the starboard and central floats. Starboard float practically in pieces with great holes in it, central float leaky, port float seemed to be all right. The damage done to the structure can be easily repaired. The “Cygnet” was lifted on to the “Ugly Duckling”and towed to her old mooring place near the mouth of Beinn Bhreagh harbour by the “Blue Hill”. The “Gauldrie” then took her in charge and had as much as she could do to tow her back to the aerodrome house. So ended the first flight of the “Cygnet”. A.G.B.

Aerial Experiment Association Ring-Kite flown at H.Q. Beinn Bhreahg, Near Baddeck, N.S. July 8th 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Ring-Kite flown at H.Q. Beinn Bhreahg, Near Baddeck, N.S. July 8th 1908.

Notes by Alexander Graham Bell, December 9, 1907 Monday At Beinn Bhreagh. (Dictated by A. G. B. to M. B. McC. Copied from Home Notes p. 13 by M. B. McC.). It has been my experience in the past that the most important experiments leave few records behind them whereas the records of unimportant experiments bristle with details. Unless I attempt now to give some details concerning the second (and last) flight of th “Cygnet” I am afraid I will never do so. Events crowd themselves upon me and in a short time the details will be blurred. Recollection distorts the facts of the past and is not to be implicitly trusted. It is now or never therefore with the “Cygnet” experiment and I must make an attempt while details are fresh in my mind although I am not in the humor for it. Friday Dec. 6, 1907 is a day ever to be remembered. The “Cygnet” was placed on board the “Ugly Duckling” and towed by the “Gauldrie” down Beinn Bhreagh harbor, out into Baddeck Bay. The steamer Blue Hill was anchored at her usual mooring place and the tow line of the “Ugly Duckling” was made fast. The “Gauldrie” then returned to the Laboratory for our party. Lieut. Selfridge was on the “Ugly Duckling”, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Douglas McCurdy were on the steamer Blue Hill, and I remained in the “Gauldrie”. Mrs. Bell, Miss Georgina McCurdy, Miss Caroline McCurdy and Miss Mabel McCurdy were transferred to the steamer Blue Hill. I almost forgot to mention that witness who will probably live longest after the event (and remember least about it)— my little grand-daughter Miss Mabel Grosvenor 2 years of age or a little older— accompanied by her nurse Miss Christina Watson. When Mabel had been handed up to men on the Blue Hill all bundled up in wraps — Mabel not the men — we transferred Dr. McDonald from the Blue Hill to the “Gauldrie” so that he might be with me and keep close to the kite in case of any accident to Lieut. Selfridge demanding medical or surgical assistance. Mr. Ingraham ran the “Gauldrie” and had as his assistants Mr. Byrnes and John McNeil both armed with cameras. When the Blue Hill started to tow the “Ugly Duckling” up the Bay towards Baddeck, the “Gauldrie” left her for the Central Wharf where we picked up a row-boat containing John McLean and John McDermid. The plan was for the “Gauldrie” to keep close to the kite and tow a row-boat to the scene as quickly as possible after the kite came down. Our function was in other words — the rescue of the aviator after his descent. Mr. Bedwin, superintendent of the Laboratory, was in charge of the Clinometer and Mr. Douglas McCurdy had charge of observations of wind velocit y and of photographs taken from the Blue Hill. A complete list of witnesses, so far as I have been able to recall them, is contained in my Home Notes for Dec. 7, 1907 p. 199 — the last page in the book. As the Blue Hill towed the “Ugly Duckling” up the Bay, the “Gauldrie” rejoined the procession. We passed behind the “Ugly Duckling” and I saw (Lieut. Selfridge lying down in the manhole of the “Cygnet”.  (He lay on his face on the ladder floor provided, covered up with rugs to keep him warm for he was lightly clad in oil-skins and long, woollen overstockings without boots.) The weather was cold but he had to be prepared for a swim.

Aerial Experiment Association Final Experiments with Ring-Kite July 10 1908 by A.G. Bell.

Aerial Experiment Association Final Experiments with Ring-Kite July 10 1908 by A.G. Bell.

The procession proceeded out into the Little Bras d’or Lake beyond the “Point” so  as to get good wind. There had been a powerful wind all the morning gradually changing from West to N.W. but at two o’clock, about the time when the Blue Hill started, the wind had fallen considerably and white-caps had disappeared from Baddeck Bay. It seemed doubtful therefore at first whether we could venture the attempt to raise the “Cygnet” with a man in her, On rounding the “Point”, however, we found white-caps on the Lake and wind enough to warrant the experiment — a N.W. wind, I think, and evidently diminishing gradually in force; it was indeed the dying out wind of a cyclone that had passed over or near Cape Bre-Breton Island. The Blue Hill steamed well out into the Lake and turned to face the wind — the critical moment had come. The wind was not sufficiently strong to give complete warrant of success so that I feared that the “Cygnet”, if she failed to rise, would be tumbled over into the waters of the Lake. John McLean and John McDermid, therefore, took their positions in the row-boat so as to be all ready for an emergency and Mr. Byrnes sat in the stern of the row-boat with a life preserver ready to throw it to Lieut. Selfridge should he need help, and John McNeil, on the “Gauldrie”, stood ready to cast off the row-boat at a moments notice. I came to the conclusion that we had made a mistake in attempting to tow a boat to the scene, for the row-boat, especially when loaded with men, cut down the speed of the “Gauldrie” so that we could not keep up with the Blue Hill and fell somewhat astern.

We watched the men on the “Ugly Duckling” with anxious eyes and at last saw them cutting loose the lashings of the kite and making preparations to lift the tilting-frame and allow the “Cygnet” to take the air. The tilting-frame was raised but the “Cygnet” did not rise, it simply slipped a little way on the frame. The front of the tilting frame was then depressed and the kite was hauled back into position. Lieut. Selfridge evidently appreciated the cause of the difficulty, namely, that the centre of gravity was too far forward to enable the kite to rise in the existing wind, for we saw him shift his position backwards until his feet projected from the rear of the kite. The tilting-frame was then again raised and this time the “Cygnet” rose slowly and gracefully into the air and flew steadily at an elevation of over 100 feet amid the cheers of all spectators. The calculations on board the Blue Hill gave a vertical height of about 168feet above the surface of the Lake. The ascent began so slowly that I feared a disaster for it appeared from the “Gauldrie” that one wing could not have been more than one or two feet from the surface of the water after the kite first took the air. If, as we had originally proposed, we had placed a load of lead in the kite instead of a man we would certainly have lost the kite, but we had the advantage of live load, instead of dead load — an intelligent load not mere weight. Lieut. Selfridge evidently appreciated the needs of the situation and drew still further back in the kite. Under this treatment the kite recovered itself and rose steadily to its full elevation. Finding the “Gauldrie” lagging behind we took the men out of the row-boat and were then able to make up some of our lost distance although the boat was evidently a drag that should be avoided in any further experiments of this character. It would have been better to have had the row-boat let off from the “Ugly Duckling” so that the “Gauldrie’s” speed should not have been reduced at the time when her services were most needed. While in the air Lieut. Selfridge moved forward as far as was consistent with the proper flight of the kite and took observations of the inclination of the kite to the horizon, finding the kite body inclined at an angle of 20°. He then began to make observations of the velocity of the wind taking readings from an Anemometer and a stop watch, but these readings were not completed because, after only seven minutes in the air, the kite began to come down on account of a decrease in the velocity of the wind. The bow of the “Cygnet”, which had originally been made of open frame work, had been covered in below with silk. This cut off Lieut. Selfridge’s view of the water in front and, on account of the inclination of the kite, shielded him from the wind so that he experienced little or no wind while stretched at full length on the floor of the manhole.

Aerial Experiment Association Front View of The Get Away At H.Q. Beinn Bhreagh Baddeck Bay, N.S. 4th Aug., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Front View of The Get Away At H.Q. Beinn Bhreagh Baddeck Bay, N.S. 4th Aug., 1908.

The oblique surfaces of the cells beneath him cut off his view below and the kite came down so slowly and gently that he was not aware of the fact that the kite was falling until it touched the water and so had no time to pullout the plug that would have rel 6 131 water and so had no time to pull out the plug that would have released the flying line. The kite came down on account of some variation in the force of the wind. Mr. Bedwin, I understand, was engaged at the time in attempting to get a reading of the pull of the kite, the steamer Blue Hill was steaming directly in the winds eye which caused her smoke to pass directly astern, obscurin g the view of the “Cygnet” in the air. Thus it happened, that both on the Blue Hill and on the “Cygnet”,the fact was not realized that the kite was coming down until too late to release the flying line. The kite could have been released at either end by cutting the rope at the Blue Hill or by pulling the plug on the “Cygnet”. Had Lieut. Selfridge noticed the descent of the kite on account of the slackening of the ind wind he also could have remedied the matter by moving backwards in the kite, thus enableing it to rise again to the old position, if this had been done the full program would undoubtedly have been carried out. Lieut. Selfridge was provided with a small white flag. When he desired to come down he was to have dropped this flag, the Blue Hill would then have been stopped and Lieut. Selfridge would have pulled the plug at the moment of alighting on the water and Mr. Bedwin,on the Blue Hill, would have released the line at that end so as to allow it to become slack. Unfortunately, however, the “Cygnet” took the water before either Mr. Bedwin or Lieut.Selfridg e were prepared for the emergency,so after alighting gently and safely upon the water, Lieut. Selfridge found the kite being towed through the water at the full speed of the steamer Blue Hill.

Aerial Experiment Association Front View of The Get Away At H.Q. Binn Bhreagh Baddeck Bay, N.S. 4th Aug., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Front View of The Get Away At H.Q. Beinn Bhreagh Baddeck Bay, N.S. 4th Aug., 1908.

The inevitable then happened and the center part of the kite was ripped out by the strain and Lieut. Selfridge found himself in the water instead of upon it. The “Gauldrie” at this time was considerably to the rear of the kite and could not see what was going on in front. We observed the kite coming down and headed for her before she reached the water, we saw her settle down as gently as a butterfly and, just as we were congratulating ourselves that the experiment had come to a successful end, we saw the kite break in the middle and begin to sink. We knew then that a catastrophe had occurred but could see nothing of the Lieutenant. Mr. Byrnes stated afterwards that he saw Lieut. Selfridge leave the kite at the moment of the smash but no others on the “Gauldrie” knew anything of this. I feared that the Lieut. Might have become entangled in the wreckage of the sinking kite and be in imminent danger. Unfortunately the “Gauldrie” was a considerable distance behind and was impeded in her efforts to reach the scene by the boat that the men she was towing and especially by the fact that the men clambered into the boat to be all ready to rescue the Lieut., the moment we reached the kite. It could not have been more than a minute or so before we rounded the wreck although it seemed, at the time, to be at least a half an hour. The moment we passed the kite we saw the Lieut. in the water swimming for his life, impeded of course by the clothing he wore. He immediately relieved our anxiety by calling out- “It’s all right, it’s all right, send the boat”. We then released the boat which rowed to him, and Mr. Byrnes, to the great indigination of the Lieut. threw him a life 8 133 preserver. He evidently thought this was adding insult to injury and refused its aid. He swam to the stern of the boat and clambered in aided by the men on board and all of us on the “Gauldrie” heaved a sigh of relief. We gave him a hearty cheer as he came on board the “Gauldrie” where he immediately took refuge under the deck warming himself over the gasoline engine.

By this time Mr. Bedwin had reached the kite in a row-boat from the steamer Blue Hill. We left our row-boat with him to help in the recovery of the remains, while the “Gauldrie” went full speed to the steamer Blue Hill and put the Lieut. on board. The ladies’ cabin had been especially prepared for his benefit by being thoroughly heated. Under the supervision of Dr. McDonald the Lieut. was stripped, dried, and thoroughly rubbed down and the process was accompanied by the application of stimulants internally of a nature that seemed to give great satifaction to the Lieut! We were relieved to find that he had sustained no injury — not so much as a scratch although slivers of wood were extracted from his overstockings showing that he had a narrow escape from being stabbed by broken sticks. His escape from injury was undoubtedly due to his presence of mind at the moment of the catastrophe. Mr. Davidson, who was on board the Blue Hill, watched him narrowly at the time. He reports that the moment the smash occurred Lieut. Selfridge dived from the kite and swam away from the wreck. He saw him turn his head in the water to ascertain whether he was clear of the kite, he then swam back to inspect the wreck and hold on if necessary. His inspection was evidently unsatisfactory 9 134 for when we came up we found him in free water swimming round in a circle waiting for relief. We seemed to be so long in coming that he was about to support himself on one of the submerged floats which of course had considerable buoyancy although in a leaky condition, when he heard the noise of our engine and knew that relief was near. He therefore continued swimming until we appeared upon the scene.

Aerial Experiment Association Prof. Alec Bell With Members of Nova Scotia, & Canadian Press Ass. At H.Q. “Beinn Bhreagh’s Little Harbour”, at the houseboat standing on the dock, 18th Sept., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Prof. Alec Bell With Members of Nova Scotia, & Canadian Press Ass. At H.Q. “Beinn Bhreagh’s Little Harbour”, at the houseboat standing on the dock, 18th Sept., 1908.

Thus ended an eventful day: Although the “Cygnet” has been so badly damaged that it is not worth while attempting repairs, she has fulfilled her function and has demonstrated the important fact that the Tetrahedral system can be utilized in structures intended for aerial locomotion. In order to make the structure abundantly strong enough for the support of a man in the air she had been loaded with strengthening material to an unnecessary extent so that with Lieut. Selfridge on board she actually carried up in a 25 mile win d a dead load of four times her own weight. The cellular part of the structure, which of course supported all the rest, weighed 47.502 Kgms. about 104.6 lbs.. The whole kite, including a 175 lb. man and a 28 lb. flying rope weighed, when dry, 451 lbs.. The Lieut. however reports that the silk surfaces were all wet with spray adding, he thinks, at least 30 lbs. to the weight and there was also attached to the flying rope at the Blue Hill end of the line a spring balance and block and tackle so that he thinks that the whole weight supported by the kite could not have been less 10 135 than 500 lbs.. Thus the cellular part of the kite weighed about 100 lbs. while the whole kite load and all weighed 500 lbs. — the load being about four times the weight of the structure that supported it. This, I think, is a very encouraging result. On Saturday Dec. 7, 1907 I was much gratified to receive a silver tray accompanied by the following note:— “December sixth, 1907 — a little token of appreciation, from the citizens of Baddeck, to mark the date when Dr. A. Graham Bell successfully carried a man in the air in a Tetrahedral Aeroplane, or Flying Machine over the Bras d’or Lake.” I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Houseboat recovering from the effects of the excitement. This evening (Monday, Dec. 9) I give a banquet to the men who have assisted in the experiments. About 32 people in all will sit down to supper to-night. A. G. B.

Aerial Experiment Association, New propellers for the Dhonnas Beag, Baldwin's Little Devil, 28th Sept. 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association, New propellers for the Dhonnas Beag, Baldwin’s Little Devil, 28th Sept. 1908.

Notes by Alexander Graham Bell, 1907, Dec. 19 Thursday At B. B. (Dictation by A. G. B. taken down by F. W. B.) Mrs. Bell left for Washington at noon to-day accompanied by Mabel and Lilian Grosvenor and their nurses Agnes and Christina Watson. Mr. Ingraham joined them on Steamer Blue Hill and will accompany them as far as Boston. He is on his way to Hammondsport, N. Y. Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Douglas McCurdy and I expect to leave to-morrow morning for Hammondsport via Montreal, Toronto and Buffalo. I have only time now to allude briefly to the few experiments made within the last few days that remain unnoted in my dictated notes…….. The celluloid balloon made by Mr. McNeil under instructions from Mr. McCurdy was completed yesterday (Wednesday, Dec. 18) and was blown up with air and photographed hanging from the roof of the kite house. Douglas McCurdy made an attempt to-day to fill it with hydrogen, but the process of manufacture was so slow with his facilities that it became obvious that it would take many days to manufacture the gas required. The attempt was therefore abandoned for this season and the balloon has been left, flattened out upon the floor of the kite-house and we hope that experiments may be made with it when we return here.

The kite in the form of a ring was completed yesterday and tried in a calm by running with the flying line. The surfaces consisted of two superposed horizontal rings of silk 50 2 cms. wide, the circumference of each ring from the median point being a little more than 12 meters (I think 12.12). The space between superposed surfaces was occupied by layers of empty 25 cm. cells standing upon their bases and Mr. Baldwin estimates the space between the two surfaces as about 40 cms. Fifty-four 25 cm. cells formed the outer ring of the circle so that the external circumference was 13.5 m. The weight of the whole structure lightly beaded was 11 lbs. (4994 gms.) or approximately 5000 gms.. We estimate the amount of horizontal surface as 12 M. 2 . and the flying weight so small as about 417 gms. per m 2 . horizontal. To-day (Thursday, Dec. 19) the kite was tried again in a wind of about 7.9 miles per hour. Two keel sticks had been added somewhat as shown in above diagram, one at the front and one at the rear and the frame-work especially at the bow was strengthened by some stout beading as shown above……….

Aerial Experiment Association, Drome No. 5 under Development and Testing on the Get Away c Sept., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association, Drome No. 5 under Development and Testing on the Get Away 26th, Oct. 1908.

1907, Dec. 18 Wednesday At B. B. (Dictation by A. G. B. taken down by J. A. D. McC.) On Friday, Dec. 13 (p. 35 & 42) we made experiments with the kite “Frost King” over the water although it was not adapted for floating upon the water. Believing, however, that we could land the kite safely upon the Ugly Duckling without putting her in the water at all, We had the Steamer Blue Hill come to her old mooring place on Baddeck Bay and take the Ugly Duckling in tow with the “Frost King” on board. The experiment was made satisfactorily. The flying line was attached at a point 75 cm. behind the front edge of the kite and the bow line was attached one meter in advance of the front edge of the kite. Mr. Bedwin reported tha t when the “ Frost King” left the Laboratory the kite weighed 65 lbs. and two lines, each about 90 meters in length, were of 1/9 inch rope weighing 70 grams per meter were used. Surface consisted of 1300 winged cells. The kite rose well from the Ugly Duckling when towed by the Blue Hill against the wind, and at the conclusion of the experiemnt was landed safely on the Ugly Duckling and brought home without being wet………..

1907, Dec. 19 Thursday At B. B. (Dictation by A. G. B. taken down by M. B. McC.) In order to ascertain whether the removal of theoretically inefficient cells — that is cells apparently blanketed by other cells in front of them — Mr. Baldwin was requested to have all cells removed from the Frost King which seemed to him to be blanketed by other cells. This was done and the surgical operation resulted in the removal of the majority of the cells in the Frost King. Out of 1300 cells 705 were removed and only 595 remained (p.54) The frame-work of the Frost King was left intact two cells deep from the outside and all the interior wasscooped out, framework and all, leaving quite a respectable sized room in the kite. The back cells were replaced by two trusses of empty cells to support the top. Thus while the form of the Frost King was retained, the kite became the mere shell of its former self……..

Aerial Experiment Association, Winter H.Q., At Hammondsport N.Y., photo of the "Hammondsport Glider", Feb., 12, 1908

Aerial Experiment Association, Winter H.Q., At Hammondsport N.Y., photo of the “Hammondsport Glider”, Feb., 12, 1908

Bell’s Disposition 15 Jan., 1915, Cygnet N o 1: Selfridge’s Ascent:— With these gentlemen present, I proceeded to build a giant kite, known as the kite “Cygnet N o 1”, and on Dec 6, 1907, Lieut. Selfridge made a successful ascent in this kite, which was towed by a steamboat. He was carried up, if I remember rightly, to a height of about 168 feet in the air, over the waters of the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. After the flight of Lieut. Selfridge in the machine, we addressed ourselves energetically to the problem of constructing a motor-driven aerodrome. Our summer quarters were at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, where I had my summer home, and winter quarters were established in 203 Hammondsport, N.Y., where Mr Curtiss had his motor cycle factory.

In Bell’s 1915 disposition the Association began work in Hammondsport, N.Y., “end of December 1907, but at all events, we were at work there in January 1908,” the first machine built at Hammondsport was the “The Hammondsport Glider,” with successful experiments proceeded in building its first motor-driven aerodrome, Bell: “To the best of my recollection, it was commenced while experiments were being made with the “Hammondsport Glider”. It was commented completed in about two months, at any rate it made its first successful flight on March 12, 1908, at Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport, N.Y., in the presence of many witnesses from Hammondsport. Mr F. W. Baldwin was the aviator on that occasion. This so far as I know, was the first public flight of a heavier-than-air machine in America. At that time there had been rumours of what the Wright Brothers were doing in the South, but they flew in secret, and nothing definite was known about their work on machines.”







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