Kites and Aerodromes of the Aerial Experiment Association
The AEA is credited with producing four aerodromes that flew. Each of these pioneering aircraft added to the knowledge of the AEA associates and resulted in several innovations that ultimately helped to make powered flight fully controllable.
A fifth aerodrome, a huge kite-like device known as Cygnet II was fitted with an aircraft engine in early 1909 but it did not successfully fly during the period of work of the Aerial Experiment Association
Prior to starting work on the aircraft type aerodromes, Alexander Graham Bell convinced the members to turn their attention to his Cygnet , a huge kite that he had developed before the Association was formed. Following attending to this device he assured them that they would each go on to lead in the production of one aerodrome as they pursued their goal "to get into the air".
The Cygnet was constructed by A.G. Bell and his staff at Beinn Breagh in Baddeck, N.S. prior to the formation of the Aerial Experiment Association. It was not motorized, but was intended to be towed on it's temporary float, behind a small steamboat until enough speed was reached to provide lift for the giant tetrahedral kite. It is believed to be the largest tetrahedral kite ever constructed.
This first bi-plane aerodrome was constructed and flown in Hammondsport, NY. It was the most fragile of all the AEA aircraft and had limited flight distances and times. However, it provided a great deal of information to the AEA members about the issues of motorized flight and the necessity of having lateral control to ensure stable flight.
This second bi-plane aerodrome was larger and sturdier than the first. It also incorporated movable wing tip ailerons on both wings to improve lateral stability. It was also the first to have the wing cloth covering sealed with a parafin wax 'dope' and to employ a tricycle undercarriage. Several successful flights with this machine helped the AEA to realize that their design direction was sound. It also provided three of the AEA members with flight experience.
The June Bug - Aerodrome 3 - 1908 (not yet complete)
This aerodrome was a highly successful biplane aircraft built in Hammondsport NY. Much sturdier and larger than the previous aircraft of the AEA, it was the first to fly a distance of over one kilometre in a publicly witnessed and verified flight. Accordingly, it won the Scientific American trophy with its record breaking flight in Hammondsport on July 4, 1908. Later in 1908, it was fitted with floats and became the first airplane to taxi on water on Lake Keuka.
The final biplane of the AEA, the Silver Dart was built and test flown in Hammondsport NY before being shipped to Baddeck NS to become the first airplane to fly in Canada and the British Empire. It is also believed to be the first airplane to fly in two nations. Using all of the accumulated knowledge of their previous experiences, the AEA members crafted their sturdiest and most successful airplane.
- Silver Dart Replica Flies Into the History Books - covering the test flights of the Silver Dart replica of the Aerial Experiment Association 2005 Inc. at the Hamilton International Airport on February 6, 2009.
- Silver Dart Replica Flies to Honour a Century of Aviation in Canada - covering the successful flights of the Silver Dart replica at Baddeck, Nova Scotia on Sunday, February 22, 2009.
The Cygnet II - Aerodrome 5 (not yet complete)
This large tetrahedral kite-winged aerodrome employed an elevator canard in front to control vertical elevation of the machine. It was built entirely in Baddeck, NS. The aerodrome was fitted with the engine of the Silver Dart in February of 1909 but it would not lift due to a lack of power for its overall weight.