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Reg Hunt's Airplane

Little survives of pioneer aviator Reg Hunt’s first airplane beyond a few cursory sketches and period descriptions. What is known is that Hunt experimented with a glider, which he successfully launched from a ramp near his west-end Edmonton home, before he built his airplane. He applied his carpentry skills to put together a wooden structure for the airplane, which he described as an "aeroglider of the monoplane type."

The structure was supported by two sets of wheels; one set of bicycle wheels at the front, which bore the substantial weight of the engine and pilot, and a second set of wheels at the tail, which stabilized the plane’s end. Differing accounts list the craft as both a biplane and a monoplane, however, one set of sketches suggested it had a biplane design.

The engine for Hunt’s airplane is of uncertain origin, although an Edmonton Journal account of his first flight suggests that he transferred his carpentry skills to a mechanical application to design and assemble the engine. The engine was mounted behind the pilot and was connected to two chain-driven propellers. The inspiration for the propellers may have come to Hunt while he was sitting in a restaurant; he reportedly employed fan-like devices "similar to those used to keep flies from sleeping in restaurants," according to a newspaper account of his flight.

Hunt steered the plane with a steering wheel, and may have used a very early version of an aileron to control the wings during his flight.

"My machine is constructed on altogether new lines. I have watched all the scientific magazines and I know that nothing like it has ever been invented before," he told the Edmonton Journal shortly after his historic first flight.

Hunt immediately began modifying the original airplane, trying to find a more efficient engine, and built more versions of it before a 1910 crash ended his aviation career in Alberta.

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