The Silver Dart by H. Gordon Green
|October 24, 2014||Posted by Christa McGrath under Adventure, Biography, Canadian|
The Silver Dart is a true story about Cape Breton’s J.A. Douglas McCurdy, who is known as the pilot of the first powered flight in Canada. He flew the airplane known as the Silver Dart on February 23, 1909, from the ice of Baddeck Bay.
This is a wonderful story from Canada’s aviation history. The book is full of facts and interesting tidbits of information that any history buff will be sure to lap up. With very little knowledge on this topic, I learned so much from reading this book, including Alexander Graham Bell’s involvement in flying airplanes, Mabel Bell’s (his wife) involvement in the creation of the Victorian Order of Nurses, and how Canada’s first aviation programme came to be. J.A. Douglas McCurdy was something like the Canadian version of the Wright Brothers (the famous Americans who were aviation pioneers in the early 1900s). This book tells of his plight from boyhood to manhood in Cape Breton Island, his lifelong friendship with the Bells, and his dedication to building and flying planes. He relentlessly campaigned about the importance of the airplane and the role it could play in the future, particularly during wartime. Sometimes his pleas fell on deaf ears. But his commitment, belief, and passion for aviation persevered.
The book is separated into 14 chapters and includes letters from that era that add a touch of authenticity and interest — bringing to life the lives of the 5 men who called themselves the “Aerial Experiment Association” and dedicated their lives to building and flying airplanes. There is also a 16-page spread of pictures in the middle of the book that help readers visualize those early years from when McCurdy was a young boy, a young man, flying planes, the “Silver Dart”, and so on. An excerpt from a young McCurdy’s diary and updates on the members of the Aerial Experiment Association are provided at the back of the book and is a nice way to give readers a little more insight into the lives of these brave men.
From a formatting perspective, I did find it difficult to decipher the letters from the text at times and would have preferred a more visually appealing separation of the two. While the book focuses on McCurdy’s relationship with aviation, I couldn’t help but be a little curious about the lives of McCurdy’s childhood family — his father, brothers, sister, and aunt — who were mentioned in the beginning of the book, but only one brother was mentioned towards the end. Overall, I enjoyed reading about this little gem in Canadian history. It’s a great introduction into Canada’s role in aviation and a wonderful tribute to McCurdy and the other men who were true air-flying pioneers.
For more information about this book, visit here.