The Truth About Alexander Graham Bell's Failed Plane

Alexander Graham Bell entered history as one of the greatest inventors in the world. Famous for inventing the telephone in 1876 and improving the phonograph, he helped develop wireless communications, aeronautics, and hydrofoil (via Scotland Is Now). Born in Scotland in 1847, Bell was interested in creating things since his childhood. When he was 12 years old, he added a wire brush to flour mill machinery to remove husks. And although he was a good student, he was also described as a daydreamer.

Bell moved to London when he was 15 years old, where both of his brothers died due to tuberculosis. His parents tried to protect their only child and moved to Canada and later to the United States. In Boston, Bell became a professor at a school for the deaf and also helped train other teachers. While teaching, Bell tried to find a way to send multiple messages over a single wire, leading to the invention of the telephone. In 1877, he created the Bell Telephone Company to sell his groundbreaking innovation (via Britannica). But while Bell is known for his work in telecommunication, it was far from his only interest.

Not every invention was a success

Alexander Graham Bell was fascinated by aviation. According to National Aviation, he said: "I have no doubt that a machine will be driven from the Earth's surface at enormous velocities by a new method of propulsion — think of tremendous energies locked up in explosives — what if we could utilize these in projectile flight!" In 1898, Bell used multiple compound tetrahedral kites covered in maroon silk to create his own strange-looking airplane. Per Public Domain Review, Graham called it the "Cygnet" ("Little Swan" in French), and it was 40 feet long and over 2,000 pounds. 

Despite Bell's best efforts, the plane ended up crashing after taking off (via Listverse). Between 1907 and 1912, Bell created two other versions of the Cygnet. Undeterred, Bell knew that his failures could help him to improve new projects. In 1909, the Silver Dart, designed and built by Graham Bell, became the first powered aircraft to fly in Canada (via Canada Aviation and Space Museum).