By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
A replica of the Silver Dart, the first powered, heavier-than-air vehicle to fly in Canada, flew much of the length of a runway at Hamilton, Ontario's airport on Friday in its first test flight. With Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason (1997 Discovery payload specialist) at the controls, the aircraft, true to the original design by Alexander Graham Bell, appeared stable and controllable during the minute-long flight, which never got more than about six feet above the runway. The flight was a precursor to a re-enactment of the first flight of the original aircraft, which flew from the ice of a lake near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, near Bell's home, on Feb. 23, 1909. The replica, with Tryggyason at the controls, is scheduled to repeat that flight in Baddeck on the exact date of the centenary.
This is the second replica of the Silver Dart. The first aircraft flew 50 times before it crashed and was destroyed. In 1959, the Royal Canadian Air Force built and flew a replica, which now hangs from the ceiling of the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa. The current replica was built by volunteers in Welland, Ontario, using copies of original plans that are archived at the Ottawa museum. The latest incarnation of the Silver Dart uses mostly the same materials as the original but some adaptations have been made. While the original used a Curtiss V-8 engine, the current model is powered by a Continental.
More video of the Silver Dart's flight