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Early Flight (Part 2)

By the time William Gibson came to Alberta in 1911, he’d already been experimenting with flight for 30 years.

Gibson’s aviation career began with kites and other flying machines when Gibson was still a farm boy growing in Saskatchewan.

Now he’d designed an airplane. And according to aviation historian Pay Myers, success hinged on finding the right location to fly it.

He’d worker in Saskatchewan, he’d worker BC but he found in Calgary, outside of Calgary, on a friend’s ranch, the perfect conditions… perfect wind, no trees, the dry climate… so he continued his experiments there with what he like to call his "mulitplane"

And he called it a multiplane because he used many many many narrow strips of fir all stacked up which he thought was way to he’d get more lift.

As Pat Myers documents in her book, Sky Riders, the multiplane had great lift and stability on the air. After a series of successful short flights, Gibsons was ready to try a longer trip.

So on August 11, 1911, His assistant jumped in the pilot’s sea and flew the multiplane for about one and half kilometers.

Then he cut the engine to glide back to earth for a landing.

As historian Pat Myers explains, that’s when the historic flight turned sour.

He noticed the field where they were flying was just riddled with badger holes, so he decided this wouldn’t be good for the plane, he’d better avoid it, thought he’d be better landing in a slough, well, he did land in the slough, he came to such an abrupt stop of course with all the muck on the wheels. The plane crashed, the engine sort of smashed up some of the wings.

And that was the last time William Gibson tired flying in Alberta..