Alexander Graham Bell may have been the ideas man behind the famed Silver Dart, whose 100th anniversary was celebrated yesterday at the Canada Aviation Museum, but his wife, Mabel, provided the money and the prodding to ensure it made aviation history.
“Mabel was the driving force behind me and also she provided $20,000, at the time, of her inheritance from her father’s passage and subsequently added another $15,000 to the A.E.A.,” said Bell, brought to life by museum guide and part-time actor Jean-Francois LaBrosse.
The Aerial Experiment Association backed the development of several early flying machines and ensured the Silver Dart took off from the ice in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Feb. 23, 1909, piloted by Douglas McCurdy — the first controlled powered flight in Canada.
The museum celebrated that aeronautical milestone with storytelling, Celtic fiddling and dancing, special tours, crafts and the chance to sit in a newly crafted Silver Dart half-scale cockpit.
“I love to see all these old planes and how it was all created,” said Scott Robinson, as two-year-old son Owen gripped the Silver Dart’s controls.
On Wednesday, a new exhibit called Canadian Wings: A Remarkable Century of Flight opens to the public, describing the milestones in Canadian aviation and how it has become such a key part of everyday life as planes transport mail, goods and people, provide jobs and protect Canadians through the air force.