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Calgary museum marks 111th anniversary of powered flight in Canada

Click to play video 'Calgary flight museum celebrates National Aviation Day' Calgary flight museum celebrates National Aviation Day
WATCH: Calgary's Hangar Flight Museum celebrated 111 years of powered flight in Canada on Sunday. As Silvana Benolich reports, Feb. 23 is also National Aviation Day – Feb 23, 2020

In honour of National Aviation Day and the 111th anniversary of powered flight in Canada, Calgarians headed to the Hangar Flight Museum to celebrate on Sunday.

Museum officials explained that the day reflects the evolution of flight technology in Canada.

“It’s really important to remember where we’ve come from. It’s important to remember what a difference flight has made to our lives and to globalization,” said marketing manager Lauren Maillet.

“It all started with the Silver Dart, which we have a replica of here, and it really gives you a good sense of seeing the progress of what’s happened with flight.”

The Silver Dart is towed over the ice on Baddeck Bay, N.S. On a frozen lake in Cape Breton, Canadian aviation first took flight 111 years ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/National Archives of Canada

The plane was constructed from steel tubing, wood, bamboo, friction tape, wire and rubberized silk balloon-cloth, according to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

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The Hangar Flight Museum said the Silver Dart was pulled behind a horse-drawn sleigh in Nova Scotia on Feb. 23, 1909, before becoming the first controlled, powered flight in Canada.

It did not have brakes and was difficult to manoeuvre, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum added.

“Men on skates at the wingtips kept the aircraft properly lined up as it made its initial run on the frozen lake,” the Hangar Flight Museum said.

The Silver Dart, carrying John A.D. McCurdy as the aviator, flies over the ice on Baddeck Bay, N.S. On a frozen lake in Cape Breton, Canadian aviation first took flight 111 years ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/National Archives of Canada

The 23-year-old pilot, John A.D. McCurdy, hit about 12 metres in the air and travelled 800 metres at close to 70 kilometres per hour before landing, officials said.

“The first powered flight in the British Empire, by a British subject, had been made — and in Canada,” the museum said.

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