A replica of Silver Dart, the first powered, heavier-than-air vehicle to fly in Canada, made its first test flight at the Hamilton, Ontario airport on Feb. 6.
With Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason (a Discovery payload specialist) at the controls, the replica, true to its design by Alexander Graham Bell, appeared stable and controllable during the minute-long flight, according to observers, although it never got more than a few feet above the runway.
The Silver Dart replica is scheduled to re-enact the first flight of the original aircraft on Feb. 23, the date on which the original flew from the ice on a Nova Scotia lake near Bell’s home in 1909 with J. A. D. McCurdy at the controls. McCurdy described Silver Dart as having been “built like a watch” by Glenn Curtiss at Hammondsport, N.Y. The original Silver Dart was driven by a Curtiss V8 water-cooled engine. The replica uses a modern Continental engine.
McCurdy’s was the first heavier-than-air flight anywhere in the British Empire. While it was a short one, later the same week McCurdy took Silver Dart on a triumphant flight of more than four miles. Whether Tryggyason will try to repeat that flight is not known to GeneralAviationNews.com at this time.
An earlier replica of Silver Dart flew 50 times before it was destroyed in a crash. Another, built and flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force, now hangs in the Canada Aviation Museum at Ottawa. The new replica was built by volunteers who used copies of Bell’s original plans. They used the same materials as the original for the most part, but some adaptations had to be made.