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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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Tom Blakely and Frank Ellis

Tom BlakelyIn the early years of aviation there were no rules, so when enthusiasts had a chance to build a biplane and take it up for a ride, they did.

In the spring of 1914, Tom Blakely from Calgary bought the remains of a crashed Curtiss Golden Flyer, and advertised in a Calgary newspaper for the assistance of someone interested in aviation. Frank Ellis replied, and the two men set to work repairing the biplane and preparing an airfield near the city.

By the end of June the biplane was ready, and the two took the machine up for several very short flights. During this time, Blakely and Ellis made a habit of sleeping in a tent near the biplane so that they could get up early and fly, taking advantage of the optimal calm morning air. This proved stressful for Ellis, who was fired three times from his job for showing up late, but who fortunately was hired back each time.


Early Flights In Alberta (Part 3), Tom Blakely and Frank Ellis
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They continued to fly for the rest of the summer of 1914, and resumed in the summer of 1915. Volatile weather eventually caught up with the aviators, when a windstorm tore their biplane down from where it was tied. It tumbled along the ground and was destroyed. Blakely and Ellis were only able to salvage the motor.

 

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Alberta's Aviation Heritage

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