AKA William Wallace Gibson
William W. Gibson
William W. Gibson & Friends

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     William Wallace Gibson, now a manufacturer of mining machinery, once of Ayrshire, Scotland (March 28, 1876) is proverbially interested in kites. His parents emigrate to Canada but the kite manufacturing continued with speculation on the why of it.
     Then he hears of the Wright's flights of 1903 and starts in on models, powered by the spring in a shade roller. They fly, and early-rising neighbors wonder about the strange birds flying off the roof of the Gibson general store which he wons by this time, 1904.
     The Gibson starts on an engine, a 4 cylinder 4 cycle affair of his own design, preparation to a plane, but the railroad boom is on in 1905 and Gibson contracts to build 42 miles of right-of-way. He loses his shirt, most of his pants, and moves to Victoria, taking with him the partially finished engine for a new start in life.
     In 1908 a prospector offers him an interest, Gibson accepts. They do find gold and sell the mine. The first engine is then completed but is not satisfactory. Yet, with his entire capital from the mine project Gibson is going all out and he produces a new 6 cylinder, air-cooled, 2 cycle engine which flies his plane with a tractor screw at one end of the crankshaft and a 1:2 geared lower-pitch puslher propeller running counterwise at the other end. And he gets 40 or more horses out of the 210 pounds---the first aircraft engine made in Canada.
     The plane is a tandem, gull-wing monoplane with the engine midway between the fore and aft tapered wings, which span 20 feet for a chord of 8 feet maximum. Ten gallon stream-line fuel tanks are fitted either side of the engine. The ribs have turnbuckles for maintaining tautness. There is a forward elevator operated by a lever and two rudders work by a shoulder yoke. No ailerons.
     Then comes the big day, September 8, 1910. A short flight and the 4-wheel landing gear need repairs. Again on September 24 the novice takes his seat and leaves terra firma for 201 feet. He takes off in a side wind and has to shut off power. There are ....an oak tree, resulting in considerable plane damage.
     Reading Maxim's book alters the Gibson design program and a new machine appears in 1911, a multi-plane, so-called. Some of the parts of the earlier machine are used but the new work costs money and the indefatigable Gibson sells his home to finance the new ship.
     This one has ailerons, operated by turning the wheel. Fore and aft operation works the elevator, a foot bar for the rudder. The forward screw of the previous machine is omitted and the drive is by one pusher prop.
     Six weeks are spent the spring of 1911 testing and adjusting the machine but the weather is execrable and he moves to another location. Here, at Calgary, further tests and changes are made due to the altitude and otherwise but a number of satisfactory flights are made.
     Mrs. Gibson has become alarmed at the risk and forces a promise not to fly while she is absent on a visit and Gibson arranges with a friend to be "test Pilot." But bad luck catches up with test pilot Alex. Japp. On August 12, 1911, Japp attempts to land in a rough spot and the wheels are torn off in the badger holes after a mile flight.
     The machine is a total wreck, the season is late, funds are low and Mr. Gibson is inclined to get back to making a living.
     In 1942 he publishes a narrative poem The Bird Men which poetically tells of his early endeavors. His concluding lines contain a plea to those who live in the present not to forget the past.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

William W. Gibson
William W. Gibson

via email from Jean Gibson, 8-11-09
Dear Sir

Whist researching my husbandís family, I have discovered that William Wallace Gibson ( the Navigator) was the son of William Gibson and Margaret Lees who were married in Straiton, Ayrshire in 1871.

William was born in Rosebank Cottage in Dalmellington, Scotland and the family emigrated to Canada in 1883.

We have come across a photograph of William Gibson senior with the address 1057 Chamberlain Street Victoria BC.

We know that William Wallace Gibson was the grandson of John and Jean Gibson who are my husbandís Great, great, great grandparents and we are trying to find when and where William and Margaret died as we are visiting Victoria in a few weeks.

I should have mentioned that my grandfather's obituary was written by his second wife and totally left out his 30 year marriage to my grandmother, Hermelinda Diaz Gibson.

Jean Gibson

William W. Gibson
Unidentified Friend

     If you search for "William W. Gibson" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (8-25-09), you will find as many as 903 links, most of them irrelevant or not very informative. However, following the lead of "Paul" on The Aerodrome Forum, I found these two very valuable websites.

B C Aviation Hall of Fame
      You will find a very nice little biography of William W. Gibson on this website. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

Canada Aviation Museum
     On this page, you will find eight images of the two planes built by William W. Gibson You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

via email from Selinda Antill, 9-22-09
     I am writing in response to Jean Gibson's recent posting. William Wallace Gibson was my great grandfather. My grandfather was William Wallace Gibson, Jr, who passed away in 2006.

Ledger Dispatch

     I did not know of my great grandfather's exploits in aviation, I found out at a time when I myself was flying as a flight attendant for United Airlines. My mom & I at one time were trying to procure a copy of a video biography that apparently the Canadian Discovery Channel did on my great grandfather. Would you have any knowledge of such a video & how we might obtain a copy?
Selinda Antill

William W. Gibson died in 1965
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster of Members
January 1, 1993

Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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Saw your name on the internet. I have four pictures in an envelope, left by my mother, marked "McCurdie Plane and underneath, William Wallace Gibson, taken from the British Columbia the Pioneer Years." Never knew why she kept these except she was born in Victoria in 1898 and possibly knew these people. One of the pictures has five people sitting in front of the plane, apparently eating lunch. My grandfather was a professional photographer in Victoria ( Harold Fleming) but these look like they were from a box camera. Wondered if you were interested? Have sent an email to the B.C. Aviation group. John