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Early Flight (Part 1)

Just four years after the Wright brothers made their historic flight, three brothers from central Alberta tried their luck at aviation fame.

Elmer, George, and John Underwood lived on a farm near Stettler. The experimental machine they designed and built was frail but elegant.

And it delighted visitors to the Stettler Exhibition when the Stettler Exhibition when the Underwood boys put it on display in 1907.

Pat Myers of Alberta Historic Site Services describes the design.

It was elliptical in shape, it had strips of fir on it, it had, it was canvas covered, they had a platform for the pilot where they hoped to put the motor, and they used motorcycle wheels so it could go along the ground.

The Underwood boys didn’t have a motor so they forced to test the flying machine like a kite.

They tethered it to a post on the farm. They used bags of grain as the weight of a polite. And got up fairly often.

And the finally one of the brothers convinced the others that he should be able to take the place of the grain, and he went up, but again just as a tethered kite flight.

They did try with a motorcycle engine to get it airborne. They got it moving along the ground by the never got it in the air.

The Underwood brothers couldn’t afford a larger motor, so they abandoned their hope of powered flight and continued experimenting with tethered flights. But as historian Pat Myers explains, their ingenuity couldn’t prevent the inevitable.

Not really crashed. It was destroyed in a windstorm when a gust of wind picked up. And of course these are very fragile craft, there’s no much to them and just shattered.. and the Underwood brothers never went back to their aviation dream again.

Even so, the Underwood brothers still managed to carve a place for themselves in aviation history.