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Aerial Experiment Association Drome No4 Silver Dart Timeline Accounts of the Day


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Hi: S.V.P. owing the comprehensive study paper, in maintaining Prof. Alec Bell’s high standards of principle, contains over 35,000 words, separating historian folklore from facts, divided into timeline chapters. Please note, instead of the DHH narrative persuading the Canadian government and militia in purchasing their aerodrome: I literally stumbled on the original letters, telegrams between all parties involved, complied and recorded, obviously by Dr. A.G. Bell, presently turning into text.

I’ll insert the intros too each one, for all those requiring a prime, documented, archived, sourced account, fallow short links: I can’t emphasis the amount of time and agitation, requiring a delicate touch, in compiling all this stuff, fallowing the bread crumbs in there proper sequence.


A.E.A.’s, J.A.D. McCurdy’s Silver Dart’s Birth at N.Y., July-Oct., 1908 Accounts of The Day. Part I. http://wp.me/p55eja-DZ

S.V.P. This is not your typical historian account; I certainly lack the required credentials, of a writer, academic or scholar, therefore Mr., Mrs., Bell & “Boys,” will narrate their own study-paper presentation. Alexander Graham Bell was a stickler in keeping records, constantly hounding McCurdy, Baldwin, Curtiss, Selfridge, on the importance in writing daily detailed accounts, photographing etc. Prof., Bell: “I am seriously troubled by the lack of proper records.” This was unveiled in Bell’s Deposition January 15, 1915, as he was questioned on the submitted, “Bulletin XXXIX, Souvenir Volume, April 12, 1909.” A score of times receiving unmarked photos, etc., Bell filled in the blanks by dating, entering received letters, telegrams, and photos. The latter sent from his summer estate, copies were produced, inserted in his personal "Beinn Bhreagh Recorder" and note book, as Curtiss and McCurdy dragged their heels in this matter. Prof. A.G. Bell: I call attention to the fact that the legend below the 201 photograph on page 5 shows the date “Dec 6, 1909” by error, instead of “Dec 6, 1907”, as stated correctly in the index to the volume. The famous recycled photo of Feb 23 as the Silver Dart took off the ice at baddeck bay is dated Feb 24 in two separate Volumes: Photo # 8 “Second flight of the Silver-Dart over the ice on Baddeck Bay not Feb 23. Feb. 24, 1909. McCurdy Aviator. Three photos. Upper picture, gives a near view of the Silver-Dart in the air (Feb.24) with McCurdy as aviator.” Photo # 28. Drome No. 4, McCurdy’s Silver-Dart, carrying Mr. J. A. Douglas McCurdy as Aviator, over the ice on Baddeck Bay, near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Feb. 24, 1909. Furthermore, the three photos depiction of the Silver Dart accident at the racetrack dated Dec., 8, that event unfolded on December 9, 1908. While LAC’s photo PA-122520 inserts the proper date, they drop the ball on location: “Canada N.S. 9 Dec. 1908.”

The below only covers the title mentioned dates, extracted, timeline from the original bulletins, AEA’s members letters, telegrams, notes, etc. Owing too the size, amount of pages while at Stony Brook farm, H. Champlin’s half mile racetrack, H.Q. Hammodsport, N.Y., divided into two parts, July-Oct., Part I and Part II Nov.-Dec. Short- Link for: AEA’s J.A.D. McCurdy Silver Dart Accounts of The Day, Nov.-Dec., 1908. Part II. http://wp.me/p55eja-Eb

Milberry, Larry 1979; Casey, Louis S. 1981; Molson and Taylor 1982, vague narratives on AEA and Silver Dart, are perpetuated by mainstream historians/authors, online history; therefore questionable or factual? “Christened as the Silver Dart, after the metallic waterproofing,” although answers the Silver, noted only applied on one side of the wings, no mention why the word “Dart” was used. Letter from McCurdy to Mrs. Bell: N.Y., Aug. 30, 1908:— You ask me in your letter why we thought of the “Silver-Dart” as a name for aerodrome No. 4. Well the surfaces are silvered on one side, that suggested the “Silver”, and the word “Dart” will explain itself. Also the combination of the two words sounded rather attractive to me. McCurdy and Curtiss used the term “dart,” in reports, etc., prior to July, 1908, in description of the initial tail release of the aerodrome, as she quickly ran down the racetrack on Stony Brook Farm. Curtiss describing the flight of the “White Wing” on May 22:— The flyer was being held by the tail at the upper end of the back stretch of Harry Champlin’s half mile track on Stony Brook Farm. Upon being released she “darted forward” and sped down the track at a speed of perhaps 25 miles per hour.

Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to J.A.D. McCurdy, 1331 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C. March 17, 1908. Mr. J. A. Douglas McCurdy, c/o of G. H. Curtiss Co., Hammondsport, New York. Dear Douglas:— I think it very important that you should make every effort to keep a photographic record of what is being done at Hammondsport, on the same general plan as the record you kept at Beinn Bhreagh. The photographs sent by Mr. Curtiss would not be sufficient as evidence of diligence and invention, for they bear no identifying mark, they have no date, and they are kept in the hands of the experimenters themselves…Now my dear fellow do look after this for the importance of the photographic record is greater than you have any conception of. Sometime or other litigation on flying machine inventions will arise and I am seriously troubled by the lack of proper records. http://www.loc.gov/resource/magbell.14800301


A.E.A.’s, J.A.D. McCurdy Silver Dart Accounts of The Day, Nov.-Dec., 1908. Part II. http://wp.me/p55eja-Eb

Mainstream accounts on Aerial Experiment Association Drome No. 4, McCurdy’s Silver Dart first flight are properly dated. However out of the first 3 starts, one developed into a short-flight at the racetrack, Dec., 6th 1908, although the amounts of “flights” at Stony Brook Farm, N.Y., are misleading. The status quo accounts claim 10 successful flights took place, confusingly petawawamuseums.ca, using military styled dating: “The Silver Dart first took to the air in Hammondsport on 06 December 1908, and flew ten more times before the turkey was served on Christmas Day that year.” While the latter suggests 11, some account state 14 flights occurred by the time the Dart was dismantled and crated.  Transported to Bell’s laboratory at “Beinn Bhreagh” estate, overlooking Bras d’Or Lake, across the bay, facing the village of Baddeck, sent on Jan., 6th 1909 from NY. For AEA the term “start” vs “flight” is; a “start” represents going down the track reaching 150 ft., gently rising several feet off the ground. Maintaining flight, covering distances from 50-200 yards, at this point turning off the engine and gliding for a landing, at times the distances were shorter: McCurdy also used the term “short hops.” A “flight” consisted going over that point, reaching much higher and longer distances, not forgetting McCurdy & Curtiss’ acknowledgment, a good portion were “short-flights.” “Three starts were made down the track in the usual manner, the machine rising gently from the ground after covering a distance of about 150 ft…… On Sunday we had three starts all of about 200 yards, the machine dropping of her own accord on account of insufficient theoretical speed in advance of the propeller.”

Note, at the end of this paper, I will provide the amount of “starts,” failed attempts, short flights, and flights, recorded while at Stony Brook farm, ½ mile racetrack, near Hammodsport, N.Y., or just fallow the timeline and keep count.

Although always speculated, I only recently uncovered why Prof. Bell christen AEA’s flying machines as aerodromes, the latter of part II will provided Bell’s December 29th 1908 account.


A.E.A.’s, J.A.D. McCurdy’s Silver Dart Cases Held Hostage at Iona NS, Awaiting $425.00 Payment. http://wp.me/p55eja-Ep

The original registered documents of the day reveals: Canada Customs never prevented AEA’s aerodrome No. 4 Silver Dart, from entering Canada, or any brief incident with import duties at the border, occurred. The Village of Baddeck, from conception was without a mayor, while the Premier of Nova Scotia, George Henry Murray, never led Canadian authorities too vastly reduce the import tariff on the aerodrome. If historians had taken the time in conducting the proper leg work, they would’ve uncovered the facts. Acknowledged by Victoria County Heritage & Archives:— “Prior April 1851 part of Cape Breton County, proclaimed Victoria County designated as a rural municipality with a Warden and Councillor system. Organised the first assembly styled as
“Court of Sessions,” with eleven “Justices of the Peace,” among them elected a “Custos Rotulorum,” establishing the “county’s seat,” (H.Q.) at  Baddeck. In 1879, the Province passed the “Rural Municipalities Act” which instituted the form of municipal government as it is at the present time, with Councillors from each district and an elected Warden.  The first Municipal Council session was held in January, 1880, and it consisted of sixteen Councillors from the various districts of the County.  The first Warden elected by Council was Dr. John L. Bethune, a resident of the Village of Baddeck. The elected warden for 1909 was John M. Buchanan representing District 4 (South Gut); the councillor for the Village of Baddeck was Murdoch D. MacAskill: Only towns and cities have ‘mayors’ and councillors.”

A.G. Bell’s press despatches, bulletins etc., declared Canadians would soon witness aviation history, Baddeck residents, and others “very anxious,” when cases of the flying machine arrived. This prompted Baddeck resident Kenneth J. McKay, a prominent respected businessman, partnered in MacKay, MacAskill general store on Main Street, to cable from the Telegraph House. Telegram to Hon. Mr. Patterson, Minister of Customs, Ottawa, Canada:— Citizens Baddeck very anxious that you allow free entry on experimental flying machine and apparatus for Dr. Graham Bell which arrived last night. The Minister hastily responded:— Have written Collector Baddeck respecting admission flying machine…. that there shall be no duty charged if machine is returned within two years.

The Dart was first delayed by the weather, as McCurdy pondered, awaiting favourable conditions for trials, and underestimating time required in the construction of wooden cases and boxes: “Fête sur mesure.” Curtiss on Jan 6th 1909 transported No. 4 Drome by express rail, informed after reaching Bath his “over size package” would be transported by “freight as far as Niagara Falls.” Curtiss informed Prof. Bell on Jan 9th of this matter further adding: If the Canadian Express cars will accommodate it, it will go by express from there, otherwise it will go all the way through by freight.

A few examples of mainstream historian’s narratives as fallows:—

Although Canada Customs originally prevented the Silver Dart from entering the country, an urgent request from Baddeck convinced them to allow it duty-free entry with the condition that the aircraft not remain in the county more than two years.

The aerodrome was shipped via rail from Hammondsport through Buffalo, NY to the international bridge crossing at Niagara Falls. From there it proceeded by rail to Nova Scotia after a brief incident with import duties at the border. Intervention from the Mayor of Baddeck and the Premier of Nova Scotia led Canadian authorities to vastly reduce the import tariff on the aircraft and it was on its way to a rendezvous with history. http://best-breezes.squarespace.com/the-silver-dart-aerodrome-4/

At first McCurdy and Bell, informed by Curtiss, assumed the missing cases were, “stalled somewhere either at the border, or at Montreal.” McCurdy’s Silver Dart cases held hostage at Iona NS, awaiting $425.00 payment for “expressage special car.” J. Price to Agent Iona Montreal, Jan. 25, 1909:— Graham Bell should pay car load rate Suspension Bridge to Iona, account special car used all the way through, boxes being too large for regular car. With back and forth wrangling, the remaining Silver-Dart crates arrived on Feb. 6,  the engine, morning of Feb. 11, 1909.

J.A.D. McCurdy’s “Drome No. 4, Silver Dart,” First CDN Take-Off & Flights During Feb., 1909. http://wp.me/p55eja-ED

Aerial Experiment Associations H.Q., at G. H. Curtiss Mfg., Co., Hammondsport, N.Y., ended December 1908, relocated to “Beinn Bhreagh,” in Victoria County, Nova Scotia.

The Bell’s christened the land, estate, in Gaelic, meaning ‘Beautiful Mountain,’ purchased in ca 1886-7, their vessel headed for Newfoundland in 1885, accidentally grounded discovering one of Cape Breton’s wonders, Bras d’Or Lake. Although the Bell’s were on a cruse vacation, up the North American eastern coast, their destination was mainly too observe and report on Mabel’s father mining operation investment. While the estate was mainly their summer retreat, at times living year round especially in the latter, agitated by the fast pace of Washington.

The 600 acres (242.8 hectares) estate, first residence constructed by the Bell’s was the “Lodge” in 1888, the second larger home, “Beinn Bhreagh Hall,” was known by the surrounding inhabitants as “The Point,” completed in 1893. They constructed a wharf, houseboat, and Prof., Bell’s laboratory nested ca 40 feet (12.144 m) above the water-line, within similar distance off the rock cliff shore near, “Beinn Bhreagh’s Little Habour.” All of the above mentioned overlooked the peninsula of Bras d’Or Lake, across the bay, facing Kidston Island was the village of Baddeck, founded in 1908. Driving distance from Beinn Bhreagh to Baddeck 6.66 mi (10.72 km) via Beinn Bhreagh Rds, straight distance on water by boat, 1.71 mi ( 2.75 km).

The Mi’kmaq called the peninsula located in the Northern Basin, “Megwatpatek”, meaning “Red Head,” owing too the reddish sandstone rocks at its tip, while some support the word “Abadak”, is a “place with an island near,” later named Kidston Island.

The Village of Baddeck’s seeds rooted during 1839 as two families settled inland, years passed and grew, the neighbouring island inhabitants named the small settlement, Baddeck. The first settler in 1829 was Joseph Campbell developing the small community as its first post master; by 1940 Robert Elmsley and Charls J. Campbell arrived in 1941. Both employed by William Kidston, operating the mercantile business on Kidston Island, later Kidston became the village’s postmaster replacing Campbell. Joseph ventured, organising his own mercantile company which latter lead into a successful shipbuilding enterprise. This propelled the village of Baddeck forward, providing steady work as the economy grew, established as a port of trade for the village and surrounding communities, exporting their goods. Known as “Little Baddeck”, was part of Cape Breton County, until 1851, named after the ruling Queen, proclaimed Victoria County on April, 1851, organized the first “Court of Sessions,” in the latter a Municipal Council. With eleven “Justices of the Peace” later known as Councillors, elected a “Custos Rotulorum,” Warden of the County, Murdoch MacAskill of Little Narrows. By 1858 the Donlop’s, Catherine and David a superintendent part of business venture connecting Cape Breton with Newfoundland by telegraph cable settled. Seeing the need and financial gains from the growing community, they constructed a hotel and combined David’s telegraph H.Q., office in the same building, later to be known as the Telegraph House on Main Street. Industry, businesses expanded by 1870’s, the amount of inhabitants increased too ca 1800, and 1875 the number of Councillors in Victoria County numbering twenty-two, elected Warden, William Kidston. According to Victoria County Heritage & Archives account:— In 1879, the Province  passed the “Rural Municipalities Act” which instituted the form of municipal government as it is at the present time, with Councillors from each district and an elected Warden.  The first Municipal Council session was held in January, 1880, and it consisted of sixteen Councillors from the various districts of the County.  The first Warden elected by Council was Dr. John L. Bethune, a resident of the Village of Baddeck.

When the Bell Family arrived at Baddeck they registered and were logged throughout that summer at the Telegraph House. Mainstream accounts claim Pro. Bell was lured to that location owing to Warner’s “Baddeck and that Sort of Thing,” mesmerised by the area especially,“Read Head,” splendidly seen from the Telegraph House. From documents, although other historians etc., might have a difference of opinion,after two summer vacations by 1887 he purchased the land and made it his summer retreat, constructing his first home “Lodge” in 1888.

It’s ironic, (strange, funny, odd), by 1909 Bell’s documents reveals, the first individual who was successful in patenting the telephone, did not posses one at his summer home “Beinn Bhreagh Hall, aka The Point.” Constantly traveling into town by boat, horse drawn sleigh, or motor car, too make calls and send telegrams on Main Street when needed.

Pro. A.G. Bell:— The following bill was received at McKay and MacAskill & Co. envelope, it having been addressed to us by McKay who received it from Dave Dunlap, the mail-man who in turn received it from McDonald at Iona…..On January 26, (1909), I went over to town for the purpose of telephoning MacDonald from McKay’s store.


Aerial Experiment Association Drome No. 4, McCurdy’s “Silver Dart,” March 1909 Original Accounts. http://wp.me/p55eja-F7

A score of attempts unfolded with the Silver Dart at Baddeck Bay in March, ending April, rumours surfacing on Prof. Bell’s preparations,
for the British Airship Race. For over a week Bell was informed on the matter, some what agitated, by 1st badgered by friends,
acquaintances, government officials, etc. Prof. Alec frustrated, dealing with more pressing matters, stifled the rumours. Press despatch:—
British Airship Race. —Bell Says He Is Not Going to Build a Machine to Compete in It. Halifax, N.S. 4th March. (Special) — Doctor Alexander
Graham Bell says there is no truth in the statement that an aeroplane modelled somewhat on the lines of the aerodrome “Silver dart”
will be built by him and shipped to England to compete in the race for aeroplanes across the English Channel. In reply to a query by
The Gazette correspondent, Dr. Bell said: “Despatch you speak about has no foundation. None of us have any intention of competing
for the British race you refer to. The Aerial Experimental Association, as its name implies, is only for experimental purposes.”

A series practice flights and landings took place early March, on the 9th  owing “winds were too strong and puffy,” multiple take-offs,
short flights and landings over the ice at low elevations not exceeding one mile in length were conducted. The next morning McCurdy
made two flights in his aerodrome “Silver Dart,” totalling nineteen miles with a laid out, marked course. Along the iced lake a measured
stretch in a straight line of four miles, the route was marked at half-mile intervals by spruce trees planted in the ice, and passed through
the harbour at Baddeck. They removed the engine in the afternoon and conducted tests and maintenance, and resumed experiments
with Bell’s tetrahedral aerodrome, “Cygnet Second” 5th aerodrome constructed by Baldwin and Beinn Bhreagh laboratory staff. Ending
the month of March, as per agreement by Aerial Experiment Association, dissolution 31st March 1909, much too the regret of all members,
especially Mrs M. Bell, “The Mother of us All.”

Prior of being officially dissolved, Aerial Experiment Association assets were sold, while G.H. Curtiss prepared for the next phase in aeronautics,
organized the Herring-Curtiss Manufacturing Company.

Press despatch New York March 4th 1909 as fallows:— An airship trust is being organized here. Cortlandt Field Bishop, present of the Aero
Club of America, an one of the largest stockholders in the Chemical National Bank, announce that a syndicate of prominent member of the
Aero Club has purchased the rights of the aeroplanes of A. M. Herring and Glenn H. Curtiss, two of the leading aviators of the country and
that hereafter they will collaborate in the production of the heavier-than-air machines. The syndicate which will be incorporated under the
laws of New York has purchased the plant of the Aerial Experiment Association at Hammondsport, New York. It Will be known as the
Herring-Curtiss Manufacturing Company.


A.E.A.’s Prof. Alec Bell’s Drome No. 4 “Silver Dart,” From Apr.,Until it Crashed, 2nd Aug. 1909, Original Accounts http://wp.me/p55eja-Fr

Mainstream history popular narrative on the organisation of, Canadian Aerodrome Company ending March 1909, certainly questionable,
nor any archived documents, I uncovered establishing a precise date. There are no Photos that I’m aware of for this time period, and will
be inserting from March, and Baddeck I while at Petawawa Camp; noted the fights were conducted early morning and in secret. Sadly,
McCurdy post AEA dragged his heels, as previously H.Q.d at Hammondsport, when it came too proper record keeping, considered as tedious.
This infuriated the Prof., especially when Baldwin went rogue, considering he had properly schooled him on the importance in keeping daily
dated, detailed, and photographic records, especially when it came too patent applications. We can deduct by 16th April CAC was not yet
organised, “Casey” wrote a personal letter to “Mother,” Mabel Bell, saddened by AEA’s dissolvent, and parting of the ways, no mention of
any company formation. If it wasn’t for the “Professor,” records for this time period would be lost; post completion, contacted Mabel B.
McCurdy, requesting her assistance and cooperation in keeping proper records. Canadian Aerodrome Company records takes flight in
19th May, moreover conducted a comprehensive search, regrettably earliest date I could find, nor any official records unlike AEA.

The company consisted of McCurdy and Baldwin, bankrolled by Prof. Alec Bell in continuance of the work, owing “Cygnet II would not
leave the ground.” He needed their contribution too his flying experiments, expressed by the 11th Dec 1910 press articles on, Bell’s
“Unwritten Chapter of Airship History,” by that time admitted: “Well, we all got onto the air except myself. The Doctor seemed to
appreciate the joke on himself and laughed heartily as he told how the big kite on runners slid gaily along the ice, but refused to soar.
‘Too much weight for the power,’ he explained.” Caring on with Silver Dart experiments and manufacturing Baddeck I, while persuading
the Canadian government and militia in purchasing their aerodromes, were the objectives of CAC. The latter will be covered on a
separate paper, considering I literally stumbled on the original letters, telegrams between all parties involved, complied and recorded,
obviously by Dr. A.G. Bell.


Historians/Authors, online, articles, etc., accounts on the Silver Darts final moments while at Petawawa Camp as it landed; remnants
of the original narrative are scattered all over the makeshift airfield. Accounts claim the Silver Dart landing wheels or wheel;
“dug into the soft sand,” these narratives only surfaced in 1955-59, appearing in North American newspaper featured columns,
deriving from a recent published book. In 1949 the narrative, “wheels hit a rise in the ground,” while in 46 and 1939, “the wheels hit
a knoll or two,” while pre latter date “the wheel initially hit a hillock or two, the latter being smaller in size.” Newspress despatches of
the day, 2 Aug 1909: The famous Silver Dart Aerodrome is no more. It lies a huge mass of twisted wood, wires and rubbered silk on
cavalry field at the military camp here. “An error of judgement on our part in making a landing,” said Baldwin in giving his reasons
for this state of affaires. Four successful flights, each exceeding half a mile in length, were made in the early hours of this morning,
a fine easy landing being made every time. A fifth trail was essayed, and while the aerodrome with its two passengers, Messr.
McCurdy and Baldwin, were going at a speed of about forty miles an hour a landing was attempted with disastrous results. The
front wheel struck one off “ the small hillocks” with which the country abounds, careened the machine on one side, broke the left
supporting surface clean off, and buried the aviators in the ruins.

The recorded anecdotes from Baldwin, McCurdy, too onlookers, correspondents and  Bell’s, telegrams, letters, received and sent, you’ll
notice the differences in narrative of the incident.

Prof. Alec Bell 7th Aug: — Letters have been received from Mrs. F. W. Baldwin dated August 2 and 3; and also a letter from Mr. Douglas
McCurdy (August 2), which enable me to put on record the main facts concerning the four flights of the Silver-Dart at Petewawa August 2…..
Just as we were about to land, the front wheel struck a knoll, and bounded up throwing the starboard wing down where she struck another
small-sized mountain, a very young one, and it was all over. We landed on the grass, one on top of another, and the machine quite near us.
The starboard wing was badly smashed.