Pride and Perseverance
The coming year promises to be one filled with both challenges and celebrations. As we kick off 2009, we face a daunting economic situation, some suggest the worse since the 1930s, and almost no one is predicting a fast recovery.
The coming year promises to be one filled with both challenges and celebrations. As we kick off 2009, we face a daunting economic situation, some suggest the worse since the 1930s, and almost no one is predicting a fast recovery. Canadian aviation is already feeling the effects, but in an industry long inured to cyclical downturns, no one is overreacting. People are cautiously confident that we will all get through this; and in the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”
Yet, amidst these trying times, there are still many things to celebrate. This year we are commemorating two important milestones in Canadian aviation. On Feb. 23, 1909, from a frozen lake on Cape Breton Island, the AEA Silver Dart took off, marking the first heavier-than-air powered flight in Canadian history.
The AEA, an acronym for the Aerial Experiment Association, was made up of Casey Baldwin, Thomas Selfridge, Glenn Curtiss, Alexander Graham Bell and the man who piloted that first Canadian flight, J.A.D. McCurdy. Established in October of 1907, the association was funded and managed by Alexander Graham Bell’s wife, Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell. There are various estimates as to how much the project cost, but it was somewhere in the vicinity of $30,000 (approx. $700,000 in 2009 dollars).
One hundred years later, Canada is a recognized aerospace leader and the fourth largest aerospace producer in the world. Across the country, hundreds of aerospace companies employ more than 80,000 highly qualified Canadians. The industry produces almost $23 billion dollars annually, 82 per cent of which is exported. In fact, Canadian aerospace is the only advanced technology industry in the country that generates a consistent trade surplus.
From the very beginning, Canada embraced aviation. With nearly 10 million square kilometres of territory within its own borders and an entire world out there to discover by air, our nation has helped define aviation around the world.
At home, aerospace manufacturing, products and aviation services have played a vital role in regional economic development, tourism, moving people and goods and saving lives. Canadian aviators and Canadian aerospace products have touched virtually every corner of the earth and continue to do so on a daily basis.
Today, there are nearly 33,000 registered aircraft in Canada and hundreds of thousands of licensed pilots flying them.
In tribute to the Canadian centennial of flight, Wings magazine will be featuring historical articles and providing information about events that commemorate our 100 years. In May, we will be publishing a special supplement celebrating the anniversary. The second important milestone of 2009 is the 50th anniversary of Wings magazine. The aviation magazine that begins its story in 1959 in Calgary has covered the industry for a full half-century. In celebration of our proud history, we will be featuring special stories throughout the year and publishing our 50th anniversary issue in the fall.