Terrance Macdonald's account of Canada's aviation beginnings takes flight
Thanks to retired commercial airline pilot and aviation author Terrance Macdonald, passersby the Silver Dart sign at the base of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site (AGBNHS) driveway no longer have cause to question Canadians’ knowledge of their own aviation history.
While attempting to pursue archival research at the AGBNHS for his latest book, Firsts in Flight: Alexander Graham Bell and His Innovative Airplanes (Formac Publishing) Macdonald made a discovery.
“I was at the end of the driveway of the Bell Museum. I took my cell phone out to take a picture of the road sign that has the Silver Dart on it. As I looked through the lens, I had an ‘oh my god moment’. I realized it wasn’t the Silver Dart. It was a picture of the Wright Brothers' airplane.”
He let museum staff know, who quickly rectified the mistake. His astuteness was rewarded with access to museum archives where he finalized his research.
Firsts in Flight captures the years between 1907 and 1910 when Bell, wife Mabel, and colleagues - Thomas Selfridge, Glenn Curtiss, J. A. D. Mccurdy and F.W. Baldwin - formed the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) and worked at a feverish pace to get an airplane in the air.
In the early stages of research, Macdonald encountered a quote by Mabel Bell that bolstered his confidence in taking up the project.
“My feeling would be to have someone write it from his own field of fascination and do it for his own pleasure,” wrote Mabel Bell.
This blessing from the past coincided with a unique writing prompt assigned by Macdonald’s Cape Breton University writing instructor Paul Macdougall: write about something that is already known, but not as well-known as it could be.
Macdonald got right to work writing about what he is most passionate about.
Firsts in Flight is full of revelations about a moment in Canada’s aviation history that could only be written by someone who “loves airplanes, aviation and Cape Breton”.
With Christmas just around the corner, this is just the gift for airplane enthusiasts.
To purchase a copy, visit Formac Publishing at www. formac.ca.
Author Terrance Macdonald signs copies of his new book, Firsts in Flight: Alexander Graham Bell and His Innovative Airplanes, at an Indigo bookstore.