J.A.D. McCurdy: the father of Canadian military aviation

An older man wearing a suit holds a model of a very old airplane constructed mainly of wire and wooden struts.
J.A.D. McCurdy holds a model of the Silver Dart on February 23, 1959—the 50th anniversary of his historic flight in this aircraft in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. PHOTO: Courtesy Gerald Haddon

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Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight for much of his life, making numerous sketches of flying machines over 500 years ago.

Equally captivated with the mystery of flight was a young boy born in the hamlet of Baddeck, Nova Scotia on August 2, 1886. His name was John Alexander Douglas McCurdy.

Canadian aviation began when J.A.D. McCurdy shook loose the surly bonds of earth—in this case the frozen surface of Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lake—on February 23, 1909 when he made the first controlled flight of an aircraft by a British subject, anywhere in the British Empire in Baddeck. His fragile aeroplane, which he designed and built, was called the Silver Dart.

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