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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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The Curtiss "Golden Flyer"

The Golden Flyer was a small, effective aircraft built and manufactured by Glen Curtiss, who was well known as an inventor and builder of motorcycle engines. Starting as a teenager, Curtiss built and raced his own motorcycles, constructing powerful, lightweight engines. By 1907, Curtiss became known as the "Fastest Man on Earth," when he rode his motorcycle to a speed of 219.4 kilometres per hour.

The Curtiss Golden FlyerCurtiss worked with Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone and established the Aerial Experiment Association in 1907. While carrying out experiments, the Association developed flaps on the wings and rudders that assisted in controlling flight. These inventions were critical to making flight practical and safe.

The Association won the Scientific American Trophy when they successfully flew their aircraft, the "June Bug", for a distance of over one kilometre in the United States. The Aerial Experiment Association also built the "Silver Dart," which was the first powered and controlled aircraft flown in Canada and the British Commonwealth.

By 1909, Curtiss had developed his own aircraft, which he named the, "Golden Flyer" because of the colour of its wings. In that year he demonstrated how effective his design was when he won the Gordon Bennet Trophy and a prize of $5,000 at the Rheims Air Meet in France. He had the best speed of 75.6 kilometres per hour over a triangular course of ten kilometres, which he flew around two times.

The early Curtiss Golden Flyer had a wingspan of 8.76 metres, and a length 9.25 metres. The aircraft had a 25-horse power, four-cylinder engine built by Curtiss and the small aircraft weighed 249.48 kilograms.

Some of the early aviation pioneers that came to Alberta to demonstrate flight, like Bob St. Henry and Howard Le Van, purchased and flew the Curtiss Golden Flyer.


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