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As Canadian as Maple Syrup and Ailerons!


Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell’s Aviation Experiment Association in Canada invented the first successful aileron? Although M.P.W. Boulton, a British inventor, had obtained a patent in 1868 on aileron and in fact coined the term, which derives from the French for “little wing”, the evidence shows the first heavier-than-air engine driven machine that actually flew successfully with ailerons came from the Aviation Experiment Association.

Glenn Curtiss was with the association at the time, and after he left he filed a patent in the United States for ailerons, which he then sold to the U.S. government. The whole issue of patents became a big mess when the Wright Brothers won several patent infringement cases by insisting that ailerons were just a variation of wing warping for which they held the patent. Then the First World War intervened, and at the end of the global conflict, all appeared to have lost their appetite for litigation.


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