February 19, 2009 14:53 ET

Canada Post Flying High on the Wings of the Silver Dart

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2009) - On February 23, Canada Post will release a PERMANENT™ stamp celebrating the centennial of the first powered flight in Canada - when the Silver Dart took to the sky over Bras d'Or Lake in Baddeck Bay, Nova Scotia.

On a bitterly cold February day in 1909, a crowd of about 100 locals witnessed the first flight in Canada - an event which led the way toward revolutionizing the way we travel. The Silver Dart was the fourth "aerodrome" brainchild of the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), a group of flight enthusiasts recruited by Alexander Graham Bell. Piloted by John Alexander Douglas (J.A.D.) McCurdy and assisted by runners on skates stabilizing the wing tips, the engine roared to life and the Silver Dart began gliding across the ice, rising six to 10 metres in the air.

"One hundred years ago, my grandfather made the first heavier-than-air controlled flight in Canada and the British Empire, a historic event which was the beginning of aviation for Canada as we know it today," said McCurdy's grandson Gerald Haddon. Just recently, Haddon participated in a re-enactment of the first flight. A group of flight enthusiasts, including Haddon, built a replica of the Silver Dart and on February 6, about 100 people watched as the replica, piloted by former astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason, took flight. Haddon viewed the flight from a helicopter roaming above. "I was able to look down as the replica glided about three metres above ground for aproximately one-and-a-half kilometres, a slightly longer course than what my grandfather would have experienced a century ago," said Haddon with emotion and heartfelt pride, speaking of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Digital illustrator Michael Little was able to capture many details of the First Flight aircraft by working with a 3-D model and pictures taken at the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum, where a full-size replica of the Dart is among the main attractions. Designers Crystal Oicle and creative director Dennis Page of Trampoline Design in Halifax also added a wealth of detail to the stamp by including a close-up view of the aircraft with J.A.D. McCurdy sitting in the pilot's seat and jubilant runners on skates down below. The details come together perfectly to capture the scene and give a sense of what a thrill it must have been to witness this historic event.

The domestic rate stamp measures 56 mm x 29 mm (horizontal) with 13+ perforations. Lowe-Martin printed 3 million stamps which will be sold in a pane of 16 stamps. The pressure sensitive stamp will be printed using lithography in six colours on Tullis Russell paper. They are general tagged on all sides. The Official First Day Cover will bear the cancel BADDECK NS.

For information regarding the official stamp unveiling and other related activities, visit or call 902 295-2009. If you are planning on attending activities, be sure to visit the "Welcome Centre" located at 526 Chebucto St., Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

Additional information about Canadian stamps can be found in the Newsroom section of Canada Post's website, and photos of these new stamps are in the Newsroom's Photo Centre. Stamps and Official First Day Covers will be available at participating post offices, or can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website, or by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA, call toll-free: 1 800 565-4362, and from other countries, call: 902 863-6550.

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