January 27, 1937



JANUARY 27, 1937

Empire’s First Airplane Built and Flown in N. S.

In these days when the nations of the world are bending every effort to increase their aerial fleets, it is interesting to note that the first airplane flight within the British Empire, with probably the first machine ever constructed within the Empire, took place in Canada on the shores of Bras d’Or Lake, near Baddeck, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, this province having many other "firsts" to its credit. It was on a day in February, 1909, the 23rd, that a rather weird contraption took off from the ground and flew through the air over the lake, which was covered with ice at the time, a distance of half a mile. The next day four and a half miles were covered at a height of 30 feet, and on March 10th all previous records were broken when the machine flew 20 miles. Sounds puny in these days but at the time it was a momentous event. The machine was called the Silver Dart and was constructed in the workshop of the late Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, which he maintained at Baddeck in connection with his summer home there. These flights were made by J. A. D. McCurdy in association with F. W. Baldwin, now a member of the Nova Scotia legislature, and the late Lieutenant Selfridge of the United States Army for whom Selfridge airfield, near Detroit, is named. Five months later the machine cracked up at Petawawa military camp in Ontario when being flown by Baldwin in a demonstration before military authorities. The engine of the Silver Dart, states the Tourist Department of the Canadian National Railways, is now housed in the aeronautical museum recently established in the building of the National Research Council in Ottawa along with models of propellors carved by the late Dr. Graham Bell while working out methods of aerial propulsion.