This day in history - September 9, 1919 - Alexander Graham Bell Sets Water Speed Record

in Home Edders6 months ago

Alexander Graham Bell is most famous for inventing the telephone, but he did other things as well.

In 1906, he, thought of a new idea, which was to use a wing-like fin under the water to life the vessel from the water, thereby reducing the drag and increasing the potential speed.

He began developing this idea with his wife, Mabel, and his colleague Frederick W Baldwin in 1908. The craft would be called the "hydrodome" but is generally recognized to be the first successful hydrofoil - something that had been attempted since the 1860s.

He built several hydrofoils.

  • HD-1 reached 72 km/h in 1911 and 80 km/h in 1912
  • HD-2 broke up
  • HD-3 was built in 1913, but WWI happened, with a moratorium on further development.
  • HD-4 set the speed record at 114 km/h (62 kn; 71 mph) in 1919 - a time when the fastest steamships were only traveling at 48 km/h. This record stood for two decades.

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(HD-4 set the water speed record at 114 km/h. - Wikipedia)

Here is a silent video from the National Geographic Archives showing the run - though I think they've mistakenly labeled it as 1920 as most of my sources said it happened in 1919... unless this is just a repeat of the previous feat.

These days, there are a number of commercial/passenger hydrofoil services and the technology is utilized in kitesurfing and modern windsurfing.

Though the original idea didn't belong to Bell, he was the one who achieved success.


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