Wallace Turnbull’s invention of the variable pitch propeller allowed pilots to control altitude increase and decrease.

On 7 February 1922 Wallace Rupert Turnbull patented the Variable Pitch Propeller. Considered one of the most important developments in the history of aviation, this mechanism allowed for change in blade pitch to suit flying conditions and airplane weight. When Turnbull was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1977, his citation read: “The patient application of his aeronautical theses to a number of problems unique to flight, and more especially his invention of the successful variable pitch propeller, have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.”

National Aviation Museum, Association of Professional Engineers of New Brunswick
New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B.
c. 1922
Saint John, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2008, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B.. All Rights Reserved.


Planet Space, headquartered in Chicago, is part of the new emerging space commercialization business. Teamed with major players in rocket booster and space craft development (like Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company), Planet Space is developing a broad spectrum of commercial space services that include Cargo and Crew to the International Space station, Point-to-Point Global Travel, Space Tourism, Satellite Orbital Delivery and Escape Velocity Missions.

Among the Astronauts working for Canadian Arrow, the Canadian arm of Planet Space, are Captain D.J. Bellinger and Captain Marvin Edward ‘Ted’ Gow. From 2000 to 2002 Captain David Ballinger served as an Aviation Tactics Instructor at 403 Helicopter Operational training squadron at CFB Gagetown. There he taught aviation warfare to senior Canadian and foreign military pilots. Captain Ted Gow was a CH-146 Griffon instructor pilot, also with 403 Helicopter Operational Training squadron at CFB Gagetown, where he was stationed in the summer of 2004.

In the early 1970s Prince Charles, heir to the throne, received his pilot training on helicopters at CFB Gagetown. Local residents say that they could always de Read More

Planet Space, headquartered in Chicago, is part of the new emerging space commercialization business. Teamed with major players in rocket booster and space craft development (like Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company), Planet Space is developing a broad spectrum of commercial space services that include Cargo and Crew to the International Space station, Point-to-Point Global Travel, Space Tourism, Satellite Orbital Delivery and Escape Velocity Missions.

Among the Astronauts working for Canadian Arrow, the Canadian arm of Planet Space, are Captain D.J. Bellinger and Captain Marvin Edward ‘Ted’ Gow. From 2000 to 2002 Captain David Ballinger served as an Aviation Tactics Instructor at 403 Helicopter Operational training squadron at CFB Gagetown. There he taught aviation warfare to senior Canadian and foreign military pilots. Captain Ted Gow was a CH-146 Griffon instructor pilot, also with 403 Helicopter Operational Training squadron at CFB Gagetown, where he was stationed in the summer of 2004.

In the early 1970s Prince Charles, heir to the throne, received his pilot training on helicopters at CFB Gagetown. Local residents say that they could always determine when Prince Charles was flying since his helicopter was always followed closely by another, an emergency measure should anything happen to the Prince’s aircraft.


© 2008, Canadian Arrow/Planet Space. All Rights Reserved.

Turnbull's workshop at the New Brunswick Museum.

Turnbull's workshop was a means to an end. He used belt driven machinery powered by electric motors to create the wooden and metal parts needed for his experimental devices. His carpentry was rough but serviceable for the purpose necessary.

New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B.
1870 - 1954
Rothesay, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2008, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B.. All Rights Reserved.


Wallace Rupert Turnbull (1870 - 1954) is best known as the inventor of the first reliable variable pitch propeller which revolutionized air travel by allowing greater flight control, especially for take off and landing, and increased engine and fuel efficiency. Less recognized are his findings on the stability of aircraft, important research into propeller behaviour and the science of aerodynamics.

Any one of these would have assured Turnbull of a permanent place in the history of aviation. Yet, outside of his home community of Rothsay, N.B. or, perhaps, neighbouring Saint John, he is not a household name - except to many aviation historians around the world. Turnbull did not make a pioneering flight nor was he a test pilot or a war ace. In fact, he never flew a plane!

His was a world of pure and applied research, countless experiments, many publications and several attempts to achieve a satisfactory performance from his variable pitch propellor. When this was accomplished in 1927 during flight tests at Camp Borden, Ontario, the Canadian government promptly declined to have anything to do with its marketing. Undeterred, Turnbull contracted with the Curtiss Wri Read More

Wallace Rupert Turnbull (1870 - 1954) is best known as the inventor of the first reliable variable pitch propeller which revolutionized air travel by allowing greater flight control, especially for take off and landing, and increased engine and fuel efficiency. Less recognized are his findings on the stability of aircraft, important research into propeller behaviour and the science of aerodynamics.

Any one of these would have assured Turnbull of a permanent place in the history of aviation. Yet, outside of his home community of Rothsay, N.B. or, perhaps, neighbouring Saint John, he is not a household name - except to many aviation historians around the world. Turnbull did not make a pioneering flight nor was he a test pilot or a war ace. In fact, he never flew a plane!

His was a world of pure and applied research, countless experiments, many publications and several attempts to achieve a satisfactory performance from his variable pitch propellor. When this was accomplished in 1927 during flight tests at Camp Borden, Ontario, the Canadian government promptly declined to have anything to do with its marketing. Undeterred, Turnbull contracted with the Curtiss Wright Corporation of the United States for its commercial manufacture.

Later, he refined the propellor further, taking out his last patent in 1932.ln 1940, the U.S. government ordered a large quantity of fighter aircraft from Curtiss Wright equipped with Turnbull’s electrically controlled propellers and the inventor received a royalty for every one of them. Certainly, this was a welcome reward for years of work but Turnbull’s entrepreneurship was based more on altruism than financial gain - better performance and safety in the skies, especially for commercial aviation.

His accomplishments are more remarkable in view of the resources available to him. He worked alone, depending upon his library in addition to correspondence and visits with other aviation pioneers for information and interchange. The experimental equipment, including Canada’s first wind tunnel in 1905-06 was made and tested in a series of workshops on his property. These were not university settings with research assistants and state of the art devices.

Rather, it was the tradition of the lone scientist and inventor, the Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, making important things happen by their ingenuity, work ethic and perseverance.


© 2008, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B. All Rights Reserved.

Alexander Graham Bell, better known as the inventor of the telephone, was instrumental in constructing the Silver Dart.

On 23 February 1909 the Silver Dart made several flights over the ice of Bras d’Or Lakes, including the first powered, heavier-than-air flight in the British Empire. The Aerial Experiment Association, which included Alexander Graham Bell and J.A.D. McCurdy among its members, was responsible for the construction of the Silver Dart. In designing the plane, they had consulted Wallace Turnbull concerning curvature of the wings.

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada/Parks Canada
1909-02-23
Baddeck, Nova Scotia, CANADA
130728-A
© 2008, Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada/Parks Canada. All Rights Reserved.


Three years after the flight of the Silver Dart, the first airplane flight in Saint John was photographed at Courtenay Bay.

On 8 September 1912 the first airplane, captained by Tom Baldwin, took off and landed on Courtenay Bay Flats, Saint John.

New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B.
1912-09-12
Saint John, Courtenay Bay Flats, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2008, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N.B. All Rights Reserved.


The Moncton Flight College started in the pilot training business in 1929 as the Moncton Aero Club. Throughout the years it has changed names from the Moncton Aero Club, to the Moncton Flying Club, to the Moncton Flight Center. In 1997 with the introduction of a two-year diploma program it became the Moncton Flight College.

The Moncton Flight College has trained pilots from around the world since 1929. During that time it has taught over 15,000 pilots to fly. Many of those pilots can be seen not only flying aircraft in every corner of the planet, but they also hold senior positions throughout the world’s airlines, aviation authorities and companies.

MFC has been honoured many times in the past by winning numerous awards that speak highly of the level of professionalism. MFC is one of the top producers of commercial pilots in Canada as well as the only school currently authorized to conduct Joint Aviation Authority training in this country.

The Moncton Flight College started in the pilot training business in 1929 as the Moncton Aero Club. Throughout the years it has changed names from the Moncton Aero Club, to the Moncton Flying Club, to the Moncton Flight Center. In 1997 with the introduction of a two-year diploma program it became the Moncton Flight College.

The Moncton Flight College has trained pilots from around the world since 1929. During that time it has taught over 15,000 pilots to fly. Many of those pilots can be seen not only flying aircraft in every corner of the planet, but they also hold senior positions throughout the world’s airlines, aviation authorities and companies.

MFC has been honoured many times in the past by winning numerous awards that speak highly of the level of professionalism. MFC is one of the top producers of commercial pilots in Canada as well as the only school currently authorized to conduct Joint Aviation Authority training in this country.


© 2008, Don McClure Aviation Historical Gallery, Moncton International Airport. All Rights Reserved

Legendary pilot Amelia Earhart stopped in Saint John before embarking upon the first solo Transatlantic flight by a female.

Before embarking on her transatlantic flight from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Culmore, Northern Ireland on May 20, 1932, American aviator Amelia Earhart made a stop at the Saint John Airport, then situated at Millidgeville. This transatlantic non-stop solo flight was the first one ever taken by a woman. In 1927 Charles Lindburgh had been the first person to fly over the Atlantic Ocean solo. In 1937 Earhart and her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while she was attempting to circumnavigate the globe.

Harold Wright Collection, New Brunswick Provincial Archives.
c. 1932
Saint John, Millidgeville, New Brunswick, CANADA
P338-103
© 2008, New Brunswick Provincial Archives. All Rights Reserved.


In 1932 James Mollison completed the first solo Transatlantic flight from east to west by landing at Pennfield, New Brunswick

Scottish aviator, James A. Mollison, flying from Portmarnock (Ireland) in a de Havilland Puss Moth, landed at Pennfield, successfully completing the first westbound flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Wikipedia
1932-08-18
Pennfield, New Brunswick, CANADA
IRELAND
© 2008, Wikipedia. All Rights Reserved.


In 1939 the first regular transatlantic flight delivering airmail stopped in Shediac Bay on its way from New York to Europe.

In June, 1939, the first regular transatlantic airmail flight departs from Shediac, landing at Foynes (Ireland). Pan American Airlines operated this airmail service using the new Boeing 314 flying boat aircraft.

Michael O. Nowlan
c. 1939
Southampton, UNITED KINGDOM
New York, UNITED STATES
Shediac, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2008, Michael O. Nowlan Collection. All Rights Reserved.


In 1952 Al Lilly became the first person in Canada to break the sound barrier when he piloted an F-86 Sabre jet.

Al Lilly served as the Chief Flying Instructor with the BCATP as well as serving with Ferry Company during World War II. Lilly flew the first Canadian manufactured F-86 Sabre jet and gained the distinction of being the first Canadian to break the sound barrier. He was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1984 with the following citation: “The application of his superior skills in Test Flying, leading to vital improvements in many aircraft during war and peace, have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.”

CFB Chatham
c. 1952
© 1989, Col. A.M. Lee, All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Students will be introduced to important early inventions necessary for the advancement of aviation. They will learn that New Brunswick has provided the stage for many firsts associated with flight.


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