Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Frederick Walker Baldwin

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Frederick Walker Baldwin (January 2, 1882 – August 7, 1948), also known as Casey Baldwin, was an engineer and a hydrofoil and aviation pioneer who was also the first Canadian to pilot an aircraft.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Casey Baldwin was educated at Ridley College and the University of Toronto, graduating from the latter in 1906 with a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering. The following year he moved to Baddeck in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to work with inventor Alexander Graham Bell. With an interest in aviation, the two men teamed up John Alexander Douglas McCurdy, Glenn Curtiss and Thomas Selfridge to form the Aerial Experiment Association.

Baldwin used his engineering skills to help build the Silver Dart plus several other experimental aircraft and on March 12, 1908 he became the first Canadian to pilot an aeroplane. Baldwin also helped design and build the White Wing aeroplane and the Red Wing, piloting the latter in a public demonstration of powered aircraft flight at Hammondsport, New York in 1908.

In the summer of 1908 Casey Baldwin and Alexander Graham Bell began discussing powered watercraft and began building and testing various types before turning to the construction of an aircraft that could take off from water that the two called a "hydrodrome." While the project was temporarily shelved, in 1919 Baldwin built the HD-4 hydrofoil that set a world water speed record of 70.86 mph on Bras d'Or Lake. However, the watercraft was not a commercial success and the HD-4 project was ended in 1921.

Following the death of Alexander Graham Bell, Casey Baldwin continued boat building and experimenting in hydrofoils in Cape Breton. A local celebrity, in 1933 Baldwin was elected to the Provincial Legislature as the member from Victoria County.

Casey Baldwin died in Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia in 1948.


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