30 September

The Silver Dart piloted by J.A.D. McCurdy

Aerial Experimental Association Established

Everyone knows that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone but few realize that he ranks with the Wright brothers as an inventor of the airplane. Alexander Graham Bell did his developmental work on the airplane at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and established the Aerial Experimental Association there on September 30, 1907, helped by money contributed by his wife.

There is a charming story about how the Bells found Baddeck. While they were on a summer cruise their ship put into Baddeck. Bell visited the local newspaper office where the editor had installed one of those newfangled telephones. This one wasn't working properly and the editor, not knowing who Bell was, complained that there wasn't anyone nearer than Halifax who could fix it. Bell took off the mouthpiece and removed a dead fly, after which the telephone worked perfectly. The incident led to the Bells establishing, a summer home at Baddeck. It was while watching seagulls there that Bell told an incredulous newspaper reporter that men would fly within ten years. (The Wright brothers flew exactly ten years later.)

Bell first experimented with rocket propulsion, then with kites. In 1908, he developed the kite Cygnet, big enough to carry Thomas Selfridge who lay face-downward in it. The kite took off from the water, towed by the steamer Blue Hill, and rose 160 feet into the air. Selfridge brought it down gently but was nearly run down by the steamer.

Then came experiments with gliders taking off from the ice. Bell was helped by Selfridge, F. W. Baldwin, J. A. D. McCurdy and Glen Curtiss who were members of the Aerial Experimental Association. Curtiss, an American motorcycle expert, studied Bell's models to see if a motor could be installed. In March, 1908, "Casey" Baldwin went along the ice at 20 miles per hour, pulled a lever, and flew 318 feet. Tests were made with other "drones" until they were ready for the first public flight in the British Commonwealth. J. A. D. McCurdy flew the Silver Dart for *half a mile on February 23, 1909. It was one of the great steps forward in aviation. McCurdy eventually became Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia and attended the fiftieth anniversary of his flight in 1959 at Baddeck.


30 September

-1749    Indians massacred settlers at the present site of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

-1947   Canada was elected to the United Nations Security Council for a two year term.

-1953   McGill University announced the development of a radar defence system for North America.