Silver Dart replica takes flight in Nova Scotia

Nearly 1,000 people lined the shores of Nova Scotia's Baddeck Bay Sunday morning as a former Canadian astronaut flew a replica of the Silver Dart in a brief test flight.

Nearly 1,000 people lined the shores of Nova Scotia's Baddeck Bay Sunday morning to watch a former Canadian astronaut fly a replica of the Silver Dart, a day before the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada.

Bjarni Tryggvason smiles after flying the replica of the Silver Dart, the first heavier-than-air machine to fly in Canada, in Hamilton, Ont., on Feb. 6, 2009. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) )

Bjarni Tryggvason lifted off from the frozen bay in the fragile biplane and flew for about 10 metres before setting down.

The brief test flight came the day before the official anniversary of the first flight of the original Silver Dart in the Cape Breton village.

Tryggvason, 63, successfully conducted two other test flights of the replica in Hamilton, Ont., earlier this month, getting the modern-day Silver Dart a few metres off the ground each time.

Organizers are hoping he'll be able to fly again on Monday, but only if the weather co-operates. A system moving in from Ontario may force a cancellation. It's expected to bring high winds and snow, and possibly freezing rain.

Organizers say weather conditions were perfect for Sunday's flight because there was very little wind.

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and other dignitaries will be in Baddeck on Monday as ceremonies marking the centennial continue.

On Feb. 23 1909, the Silver Dart was flown by engineer John McCurdy, one of the aircraft's designers, who was part of a team led by inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

McCurdy was fully exposed to the weather as he flew the plane over Baddeck Bay, covering one kilometre at an altitude of about five metres.

The biplane was built of wood and silk fabric and had a three-wheeled undercarriage, which enabled the machine to take off under its own power.

The Silver Dart's system of wing stabilizers is used in modern aircraft to this day. Motorbike parts played a key role in the motor of both the original aircraft and the $40,000 replica.