John Alexander Douglas McCurdy

mccurdy.jpgJohn who?!

JD McCurdy, as he is known, was the first person to fly an airplane in Canada. He was schooled at St. Andrews College in my hometown of Aurora, Ontario. He was also the first Canadian to receive a pilots license.

The frame and structure of the Silver Dart (the name of the plane) was made of steel tube, bamboo, friction tape, wire, and wood. The wings were covered with rubberized silk balloon-cloth. It was pretty advanced for its time:

– Was able to take off under its own power, by utilizing a three wheel undercarriage (now used almost universally by all general aviation aircraft).

– Used a water cooled 40HP engine.

However, the most important contribution and innovation was the ailerons. Previously (with the Wright brothers design) in order to turn the plane the entire wing was twisted. McCurdy along with the Aerial Experiment Association devised the aileron “method” of controlling the airplane. McCurdy “considers this to be Canada’s outstanding contribution to aircraft development”.

You can listen to him speaking about the flight from the CBC Archives.

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