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Silver Dart Commemoration


Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, February 23, 2009, will mark an important milestone in the field of human achievement and a great moment in the history of Cape Breton Island, the Province of Nova Scotia, and Canada.

On that day, 100 years ago, Cape Breton native John Alexander Douglas McCurdy became the first person in the British Empire to pilot a heavier-than-air flight when he flew the Silver Dart over the frozen waters of Loch Bras d'Or to the astonishment of onlookers.

An engineer by training, J.A.D. McCurdy went on to become the first licensed pilot in Canada and was a director of aircraft production in Canada during the Second World War.

From 1947 to 1952, he was Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. He passed away in 1961 and is buried in the family plot in the village of Baddeck, overlooking the very spot where he made history as a young man.

His historic accomplishment will be honoured in less than two weeks when, once again, people will gather, this time in the thousands, on the frozen waters of the Bras d'Or Lakes, to witness a re-enactment of this magnificent feat. Former astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason will pilot a new replica of the Silver Dart on Monday, February 23.

This is an auspicious occasion. I will attend this event, and I am sure all honourable senators will join me in wishing good luck to the pilot, Mr. Tryggvason, as he attempts to duplicate, and pay homage to, this wonderful Canadian achievement.