Monday Apr 17, 2023

The Red Devil

Flying Through History as The Red Devil Takes to the Skies!
On a clear Autumn day in 1912 thousands of people gathered to see the world famous Red Devil.
Amid a backdrop of the Saint John Exhibition -then the second largest in the country- competing with Toronto’s CNE for position of biggest Exhibition in Canada, another rivalry was playing out.
The Red Devil’s pilot, Captain Baldwin, was competing with the airplane's then rival for the future of the skies; the hot air balloon, and its pilot Professor Bonnette. Back then hot air balloons were considered much safer and faster than airplanes, and most sensible people thought the airplane would be a short-lived novelty.
The rival airplane versus balloon pilots competed for the public’s approval by engaging in increasingly daring and risky behavior.
After Professor Bonnette wowed the crowd by parachuting out of his balloon –and accidentally ending up in the Harbour– Captain Baldwin decided to one-up him by taking a local Saint Johner along with him aboard The Red Devil.
One extremely reluctant and very unhappy reporter was forced by his newspaper editor to go on a trip on the airplane, a then-brand new technology only invented nine years earlier. His vivid description of flying over Saint John in the earliest days of aviation memorably begins with the angry opening line: “The editor is an autocrat...”

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