Monday, February 23, 2009

More Aviation: Silver Dart

Someone once challenged the artist Charles Pachter about his penchant for painting moose and Canadian flags and Governor Simcoe. Why don't you focus your art on universal themes?

What makes art universal, Pachter replied, is promotion and distribution.

What makes some history worth commemorating? What makes some history controversial?

I noted the fiftieth anniversary of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow last Friday, rather expecting to be part of a sizeable wave of media commemoration. Instead, pretty much nothing in the media I follow.

Today is the hundredth anniversary of the first powered, heavier-than-air aircraft in Canada: the Silver Dart, conceived and funded by Alexander Graham Bell and flown off the ice in Baddeck harbour, Nova Scotia. And there has been lots of coverage of that anniversary. But almost all of it flows from the decision of a group of enthusiasts to promote and distribute the event in a media-friendly way. The former Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason has been flying a replica Silver Dart in the last few days, drawing copious media attention. Will he get off the ice at Baddeck today? There'll be film at 6.30 either way. Well, good for them.

Late Update: even bigger than I thought! CBC sent Peter Mansbridge to Baddeck to do the news from the site of the flight

Ten days ago, I missed noting something that has been interesting me lately: the discovery at oil at Leduc, February 13, 1947, the event that transformed Alberta. It came along with news that the Alberta Finance Minister was projecting a substantial deficit for next year, not so much because of aggressive investment in "stimulus" like everyone else, but simply because oil revenues are plunging. The Leduc story is not such a happy one as we look at how Albert has managed the windfall over sixty years.

In short, looks like they had another oil boom and they pissed it away again.
(Silver Dart photo courtesy CFForces, Department of National Defence, Canada. Leduc photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

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