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Bell Tetrahedral Kites

Well, I spent the evening putting together a 16 cell tetrahedral kite of the type made famous by Alexander Graham Bell. The kite was built by Morris Canning of Parrsboro, NS for the CBC's documentary TV division.

I have been consulting with CBC staff assigned to doing a Bell documentary for the upcoming TV series "The Greatest Canadian". AGB-portrait.gif
I am looking forward to flying the tetrahedral kite on Thursday, Sept. 30th. The film crew will use the segments of the flight of the  sixteen celled kite as part of the documentary. Bell is best known for his work with the development of the telephone. However, his achievements and the results of his work reached into many areas of science. He conducted scientific experiments and technological development on a number of devices that were firsts in their field.  Bell developed the original sound recording device and then sold the patent to Thomas Edison who went on to further develop and market the gramophone.  Bell also developed the tetrahedral structure used frequently today in building construction, was a pioneer in the early development of manned flight and developed and patented the hydrofoil.  He was a master teacher of the deaf and pioneered the basis of the early American Sign Language.
SilverDart-1909.gifBell's work with the Aerial Experiment Association led to the development of four different airplanes, or aerodromes, as Bell liked to call them. The most famous of these planes in Canada is "The Silver Dart". It was the first plane to fly in the British Commonwealth. On February 23, 1909, with John A.D. McCurdy at the controls, the aeronautical beauty lifted off from the ice of Bras'd'Or Lake, Baddeck, Nova Scotia. It was a milestone in aviation and the high point of the work conducted by Bell's Aerial Experiment Association.

Bell also did a lot of work during this period with tetrahedral kites and his massive Cygnet was a huge cellular contraption (3,393 tetra cells) that boggles the imagination.

Cygnet.gifAlthough the Cygnet did achieve a short lift off from the surface of the lake, it did not release from it's tow rope upon landing back on the lake and was pulled into the water causing a huge amount of damage. The Cygnet was the largest tetrahedral kite ever constructed.  It was disassembled following its initial brief flight and was never flown again.  However, with this kite, Bell demonstrated that the tetrahedral form was very strong and could be aggregated to make large, durable obects.
I am very honoured and excited to be consulting on this project with the CBC.


Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 at 07:18AM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in | CommentsPost a Comment

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