Rothesay, New Brunswick, is not a very big town, and when we moved there to
establish my research base, first in Anderson's barn, then in Fraser's barn, my
wife warned me to use caution when speaking to the neighbours. Otherwise, she
said, I would be taken for another "flying machine crank." But I knew,
even as early as 1900, that the aeroplane was on its way and soon flying
machines would be a reality. I also knew that before it could happen there were
hundreds of practical problems that required a creative, yet methodical, mind
such as mine.
To advance my research I needed a constant supply of controlled air
currents, so I built the first wind tunnel in Canada in Anderson's barn.
In it, I improved wing designs and discovered the propeller that
made aviation and air transport a commercial possibility. I also, of course,
helped Alexander Graham Bell in his aviation experiments in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
But I am most proud of my achievement in bringing science to aeronautics: of
showing the world that only through an understanding of the fundamental
principles governing flight such as lift, drag, drift, and centre of
pressure could we hope to build stable, efficient and safe aircraft