McCurdy, J.A.D., 1886-1961

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McCurdy, J.A.D., 1886-1961

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1886-1961

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John Alexander Douglas McCurdy was born on 2 August 1886 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, the son of Arthur Williams McCurdy and Lucy (O'Brien) McCurdy. He was educated at St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Ontario and graduated in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto in 1906. He then returned to Cape Breton where he began working with Alexander Graham Bell's Aerial Experiment Association. The two were well acquainted through an association between Bell and McCurdy's father who was editor of the Cape Breton Island Reporter. On 23 February 1909 J.A.D. MacCurdy became the first person in the British Empire to successfully fly an airplane, the Silver Dart, and in 1910 became the first person in Canada to be issued a pilot's license. In 1911 he made the longest flight over open water to that date, from Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba. He gave up flying in 1916 due to problems with his eyesight. On 2 April 1919 he married Margaret Millicent Ball of Woodstock, Ontario. He was a pioneer of the Canadian aircraft industry, serving as an officer of the Reid Aircraft Company (1928) and the Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Limited (1929-1939). Thereafter, he served as the Assistant Director General of Aircraft Production in Canada (1939-1947). He was later appointed the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia after Confederation and served in that capacity between 1947 and 1952. He died in Montreal from complications of leukemia on 25 June 1961 and was buried in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

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