Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There SHE is.


100 years later.


In Hamilton, Ontario.


Yes, safe inside the world famous hangar of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, being disassembled as NWAII looks on, to be crated and sent on to Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia for its 100th Anniversary celebration flight, a mere two weeks from now on February 23, 2009.

What IS the Silver Dart besides being a “Drive” (road) around the inside perimeter of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport?

From the Canadian Encyclopedia:

“The Silver Dart, was the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to fly in Canada; designed and built by the Aerial Experiment Association (Oct 1907-Mar 1909) under Alexander Graham BELL (yeah…the same Canadian guy who invented the telephone), a flight enthusiast since boyhood.

After several successful flights at Hammondsport, NY, early in 1909 the Silver Dart was dismantled, crated and brought to Baddeck Bay, NS, the Bells' Canadian home. The "aerodrome" (Bell's preferred term) had a 14.9 m wingspan and an all-up weight of 390 kg, pilot included.

J.A.D. MCCURDY was the principal designer and pilot; Glenn H. Curtiss developed the water-cooled engine, an advance on the association's earlier experiments. Pulled on230to the ice of Baddeck Bay by horsedrawn sleigh on Feb 23, the silver-winged machine rose on its second attempt after travelling about 30 m, flying at an elevation from 3 to 9 m at roughly 65 km/hr for 0.8 km.

Over 100 of Bell's neighbours witnessed the first flight of a British subject anywhere in the Empire.

The Silver Dart flew more than 200 times before being damaged beyond repair upon landing in the soft sand of Petawawa, Ont, during military trials in early Aug 1909. The engine was later retrieved and restored and is now on display at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. A full-scale model of the Silver Dart may be found in Ottawa's National Aviation Museum.” (Norman Hillmer)

Former Canadian Space Shuttle astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason flew the newest Silver Dart replica, just a few metres above Hamilton runways, on both Friday and Sunday. Incidentally this replica was built by a group of volunteers from Welland Ontario. And one of those volunteers is incidentally related to J.A.D. McCurdy, the Dart’s original pilot!

Another replica of the Silver Dart crashed in 1959 from flight instability originating from the airplane’s nose. The nose of any version of the Silver Dart has a strong tendency to move up and down uncontrollably, and Bjarni Tryggvason has wind-tunnel tested and engineered some changes from the original aircraft’s design to correct this flaw.

Other minor changes were made to the replica aircraft as well.

Nylon has replaced the original Dart’s silver coloured silk, and oddles of HOCKEY TAPE help keep the ancient design together. Where the reader can see stick framing surrounded by black splotches on all the aircraft’s joints, that is, hockey tape doing its thing!

Real Canadians use hockey tape, NOT duct tape, Mr. Green.

Oh and Bjarni and company…do tell the media and public when you decide to fly your beastie!

We really are interested in any Silver Dart flight…if you only give us a chance!!

I had to drive at breakneck speed, avoid two head-on collisions, and ended up mowing down two unsuspecting old ladies on the outskirts of Mount Hope…just to get to the Museum, and for what? You had already flown the Dart.

The disassembly was fascinating to watch though.

One stick at a time–

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