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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell was born in Scotland and lived in Canada before eventually becoming an American. Although Bell is best known for inventing the telephone, he also had a keen interest in the science of flight. He and the rest of the Aerial Experiment Association built the first powered aircraft in Canada: the Silver Dart.

Bell had cultivated a friendship with Samuel Pierpont Langley, the American developer of a steam-powered model aircraft which Bell had witnessed flying in May 1896. Impressed with what he had seen, Bell continued his own work with kites, and published the paper, "Kites with Radial Wings," in National Academy of Science magazine. The Wright Brothers later used this paper during the development of their own flyer at Kitty Hawk.

Alexander Graham BellOn 8 December 1903, Langley attempted flight with a larger version of his steam-powered aircraft. He launched his "Great Aerodrome" from a short runway on the top of a houseboat floating in the Potomac. The crowd watched as the craft failed to attain sufficient speed on its take-off and plunged into the river.

Just over a week later on 17 December, Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully completed the first manned, powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


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