Glenn Hammond Curtiss, (1878 - 1930)

curtiss_portrait_1_200.jpg Glenn Hammond Curtiss
Aviator No. 1 (Aero Club of America)

Glenn H. Curtiss was born May 21, 1878, at Hammondsport, New York.

Educated in public schools his youth was dominated by a curiosity of things mechanical. While still in his teens he developed a successful bicycle business and later turned to motorcycles.

By 1905 he became renowned for his motorbikes and racing feats throughout the country. Interest in aeronautics came in July 1904, when the famed balloonist Thomas Baldwin requested a Curtiss engine for his dirigible, the "California Arrow".

This engine and airship were so successful that additional orders flowed into the G.H. Curtiss Manufacturing Company for similar engines. When the Aerial Experiment Association was formed by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell in 1907, Curtiss was asked to join the group as director of experiments.

The organization had as its primary purpose a serious and scientific study of winged flight. Members designed and built various "aerodromes" but on May 22, 1908, when Glenn successfully flew his "White Wing" a distance of 1,017 feet, additional fame was added to his achievements and the new field of aeronautics beckoned to him.

The findings of the A.E.A. projects led to the Curtiss "June Bug" which was entered in competition for the Scientific American Trophy. In it, on July 4, 1908, Curtiss won the trophy by flying well over the one-kilometer flight required to win. On July 17, 1909, in the "Gold Bug", the second leg of the Scientific American Trophy was won and his flight with the "Albany Flyer" won the third leg on May 31, 1910.

These flights were for longest distance, circular flight and cross-country flight and won him permanent possession of the Trophy. In August 1909, he won the Gordon Bennett Cup for speed at Rheims, France, scorching the air at 46 mph. For his great accomplishments in aviation, his willingness to help to share his findings and public demonstration all his flights, the Aero Club of America awarded him aviator License Number One on June 8, 1911.

In the same year he developed the first successful hydro airplane and in 1912 the flying boat. Glenn Curtiss was awarded the Gold Medal of the Aero Club of America in December 1911, and again in December 1912. For flying boat development, he received the Langley Medal in 1913. His aircraft were becoming world famous, his name almost legendary.

A Glenn H. Curtiss Illustrated Timeline c.1906 - 1919

Draft #1 [Feb 2002], and assembled, except where noted, from the following websites and or texts...,,, and

Selected international events are shown in Blue

Oct. 23, 1906
Paris, France. Alberto Santos-Dumont makes the first powered and sustained flight in Europe by a man-carrying aeroplane, his No.14 bis. The craft reaches a height of 10 feet and flies a distance of 197 feet.

Oct. 01, 1907
The Aerial Experiment Association was formed at Halifax, N.S. The officers included: Alexander Graham Bell, John A.D. McCurdy, Frederick Walter (Casey) Baldwin, Glenn H. Curtiss, and Lt. Thomas Selfridge.


1907-09: A design consortium ..,gathered by Alexander Graham Bell at his Canadian home; an early "think tank," advancing the experiments of Australian Lawrence Hargrave during the 1890s. Aircraft were built at Hammondsport NY. []

Nov. 30, 1907
Glenn Curtiss founds the Curtiss Aeroplane Company. This is the first airplane manufacturer in the U.S.

Dec. 06, 1907
Alexander Graham Bell's Cygnet, consisting of 3393 tetra cells covered with 184 square meters of silk and carrying Lt. Thomas Selfridge, achieved flight. The kite was launched from a raft towed behind the steamer Blue Hill. Upon landing the kite was completely destroyed on landing.


Bell, Cygnet 1, 1907

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Aerodrome #5, Cygnet 1909 = Odd "flying wall" on skids with a huge frontal surface composed of 360 tetrahedral cells - a concept carried forward from Bell's 1902 kite designs - arranged in a rectangular wingform, and with the pilot perched well out in front on skids; span: 40'0" (>52'6") length: 13'1". Tested at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, on 2/22 and 24/1909, but failed to fly. Alexander G Bell. Developed from 1907 kite-glider Cygnet I, which was towed by a motorboat to an altitude of 168' (p: T Selfridge), but was destroyed in landing on the water. As Cygnet II, it was modified with tricycle gear, 26'4" span, and an 8-cylinder Curtiss motor, with no success. It did finally fly, as Cygnet III, with 70hp Gnôme rotary to help overcome its frontal mass, from ice-covered Lake Bras d'Or, Nova Scotia, on 3/1/12, attaining 43mph (p: J McCurdy). []

Mar. 12, 1908
The first public flight of a powered heavier than air machine in the United States. (Hammondsport, N.Y.) The Red Wing, first of four biplanes built by the A.E.A. was designed by Lt. Thomas Selfridge. It was powered by a 40 hp Curtiss engine and acquired its name from the red silk used to make the wings. It flew 97 meters above the ice on Lake Keuka.


Aerodrome #1, Red Wing 1908 = 1pOBF(skids); 40hp* Curtiss air-cooled V-8 pusher; span: 43'4" length: 26'3" load: 185#. Thomas Selfridge. Named for its red fabric coloring, covered thusly for the sake of documenting photography. First public flight of an airplane in the US. Having no lateral control, it crashed on its first flight at Lake Keuka NY on 3/12/08 after flying a distance of 318'11" (p: F W Baldwin). *Actual flight efficiency was estimated to be less than 20hp. []

The Red Wing. On a bitterly cold March 12, 1908, the Red Wing, piloted by Casey Baldwin, sped over the icy surface of the lake on runners, bounded into the air, and actually flew for a distance of 318 feet 11 inches. Being virtually uncontrollable since it lacked any stabilizing device, it flipped over on one side and crashed. However, disregarding the practically unpublicized flights of the Wright brothers, this was the first time than an aeroplane was flown puclicly in America.

Villard, Henry Serrano, Contact, The Story of the Early Birds


The 'Red Wing', with pilot "Casey" Baldwin before its flight. Lake Keuka, New York, on March 12, 1908

May 18, 1908
Frederick Walter (Casey) Baldwin flies The White Wing for the first time at Hammondsport, N.Y. It was the second biplane constructed by the A.E.A. Designed by Baldwin and powered by the 40 hp motor used in the Red Wing.


Aerodrome #2, White Wing 1908 = 1pOB; 40hp Curtiss air-cooled V-8 pusher; span: 42'3" length: 26'3" load: 175#. F W Baldwin; ff: 5/18/08 (p: Baldwin). Tricycle gear; first use of ailerons (which led to long-term litigation over the Wright Brothers' claim of violation of their patent for movable wing surfaces). Lateral control of movable, triangular ailerons was by way of a body yoke attached to the pilot, who leaned in the direction of a turn. Flew a distance of 1,017' on 5/21/08 (p: Glenn Curtiss). Damaged beyond repair on landing two days later, and abandoned. []

The White Wing. The Red Wing was followed in a few weeks by a resplendent White Wing, designed by Baldwin. This model, because the ice had melted, was put on a tricycle undercarriage and taken for trials to an abandoned race-track known as Stony Brook Farm. It was soon apparent that to get the Whiite Wing into the air was one thing, but to get back down without wrecking the machine was quite another. Smash followed smash in discouraging succession---fortunately with no injuries save to the feelings of the operator.

"It seemed one day that the limit of hard luck had been reached," wrote Curtiss of these first ventures, "when, after a brief flight and a somewhat rough landing, the machine folded up and sank down on its side, like a wounded bird, just as we were feeling pretty good over a successful landing without breakage."

The only way to learn was the hard way: by trial and repair, by study of stresses and strains, by provisional changes in details of construction. But on May 22, the White Wing, with Curtiss at the controls, flew a distance of 1017 feet in 19 seconds and actually landed intact in a ploughed field outside the old racetrack. It was cause for elation---and for the prompt construction, under Curtiss's direction, of a bigger, better, prize-winning plane: the June Bug.

Villard, Henry Serrano, Contact, The Story of the Early Birds

May 23, 1908
John A.D. McCurdy flies for the first time. Unfortunately for The White Wing, McCurdy's first flight ends in a crash in which McCurdy is only slightly injured.

Jun. 21, 1908
Glenn Curtiss pilots the A.E.A.'s June Bug biplane for its first three flights. Two weeks later, this aerodrome designed by Curtiss flew over a kilometre and won the first Scientific American Cup, presented by the Aero Club of America.


Aerodrome #3, June Bug 1908 = 1pOB; 40-50hp Curtiss air-cooled V-8 pusher; span: 42'6" length: 27'6" load: 142# v: 39/x/x. Glenn Curtiss. Employed pilot-induced movable wing-tips as ailerons, as on White Wing; ff: 5/21/08 (p: Curtiss) for a distance of 152 yds. Made a total of 32 flights until Aug 31, one of which marked the first plane to fly one kilometer, on 7/4/08, at a recorded 39mph, for which Curtiss was awarded the Scientific American trophy. Design evolved into 1909 Curtiss Golden Flyer. []

Aerodrome #3-A, Loon 1908 = June Bug, as a twin-pontoon floatplane, attained a surface speed of 27mph, but failed to break loose from the water. During subsequent attempts it went out of control, sank in the shallows, and became frozen in the ice. Further experiments in water take-off were left to Curtiss' 1911 Hydroaeroplane. []

Jul. 04, 1908
Glenn Curtiss wins the $2,500 silver trophy offered by the Scientific American journal for an official flight over one kilometer. Curtiss flew the AEA's June Bug 1.1 miles, nearly twice the required distance, at the Stony Brook Farm race-track, the AEA base.

Jul. 10, 1908
The June Bug, which obtained its name from the resemblance it bore to the 'June Bug' (insect), actually flies like an insect and becomes the first plane to make a complete turn. Glenn Curtiss was at the controls.

Jul. 13, 1908
The first edition of the weekly Bulletin of the Aerial Experiment Association, edited by A.G. Bell, appeared at Beinn Bhreagh, Baddeck, Nova Scotia.


Jul. 20, 1908
Orville Wright warns Glenn Curtiss that the wing flaps in use on the AEA's June Bug are an infringement of the Wrights' patents.

Aug. 29, 1908
John A.D. McCurdy takes the June Bug for a three kilometre flight and completes the first 'figure 8'.

Sep. 17, 1908
Lt. Thomas Selfridge becomes the first aviation fatality of a passenger dying from injuries sustained in a crash with Orville Wright at Fort Meyers, Virginia.


Oct. 16, 1908
Farnborough, England. On this date, Samuel F. Cody became the first man to fly in Britain. In his British Army Aeroplane N∫ 1, powered by a 50-hp Antionette engine, he flew the 52-foot wingspan craft for a distance of 1,391 feet from the take-off point at an altitude of approximately 30 feet. Unfortunately, his landing resulted in a crash due to a too sharp of turn. Cody was slightly injured in the mishap.


Dec. 06, 1908
The AEA's fourth aircraft, the Silver Dart, was flown for the first time at the AEA's Hammondsport home base. It was designed from a collaboration between John A.D. McCurdy and Glenn Curtiss; an improvement on the design of the June Bug.


Aerodrome #4, Silver Dart 1908 = 1pOB; 35-50hp Curtiss water-cooled V-8 pusher; span: 49'1" length: 30'0" load: 290#* v (est): 40/x/x. John McCurdy; ff: 12/6/08 (p: McCurdy). *Calculated useful load showed figures of 150# for pilot, 110# of gas and oil (including tank), and 30# of water. Made from steel tube, bamboo, friction tape, wire and wood, it was covered with rubberized silk balloon-cloth, its propeller was carved from a solid block of wood, and it had no brakes. The last of AEA's team efforts, it went to Canada and became the first airplane to fly in that country, on 2/23/09 (p: McCurdy). Although the Canadian Army was unimpressed and felt that airplanes would never amount to much in actual warfare, AEA was finally invited to the base at Petawawa to show their machine. Sandy terrain there was problem for the aircraft's small wheels - there was great difficulty taking off. Then, on the fifth flight, McCurdy wrecked the craft on landing when one wheel struck a rise in the ground, and thus ended the career of the Silver Dart. []

A.E.A. Silver Dart

The original Silver Dart was the fruit of the Aerial Experiment Association formed under the tutelage of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. The first controlled powered flight in Canada occurred February 23 1909 when the Silver Dart was flown off the ice at Baddeck Nova Scotia, by one of its designers, the intrepid John A.D. McCurdy. They were the heady early days of aviation. The Wright Brothers had lifted off at Kitty Hawk only 5 years previously, and the first flight in Europe By the Brazilian Santos Dumont had taken place scarcely three years before.

The AEA came into being when J. D. Mcurdy and his friend Frederick Baldwin, two young engineers fresh out of the University of Toronto, decided to spend the summer in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. McCurdy had grown up there, and his father was the personal secretary of Dr. Bell. He grew up close to the Bell family and was well received in their home. One day, as the three sat with Dr. Bell discussing the problems of aviation, Bell's wife suggested they form a company to exploit their collective ideas. Being independently wealthy, she offered to bankroll the idea, taking care of one of the major problems facing aspiring aviators of the day.

At Bell's behest, the American motorcycle designer and manufacturer, and recognized expert on gasoline engines Glenn H. Curtiss was invited on board. The group attracted sufficient attention to inspire the United States government to request that an official observer be allowed to join, and Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge came on.

By the time the Silver Dart was constructed in 1908, it was the AEA's fourth flying machine, or aerodrome as Bell termed it. One of it's precursors, the June Bug, had already broken records - it won the Scientific American Trophy for being making the first official one kilometer flight in North America. But the Silver Dart outdid it when on March 10th, 1909, McCurdy flew the airplane on a circular course over a distance of more than twenty miles. The first passenger flight in Canada was made in the Silver Dart on August 2, 1909.

The Silver Dart was made of steel tube, bamboo, friction tape, wire, wood, had no brakes, and was covered with rubberized silk balloon-cloth. It's engine was a reliable V-8 that developed 35 hp at 1000 rpm and its propeller was carved from a solid block of wood. The airplane had what is now called a canard or an "elevator in front" design, ie. it was designed to have its normal horizontal tail surface on the front rather than the rear of its fuselage. Like most aircraft of its day, it seems to have had poor control characteristics.

The Canadian Army was unimpressed at the headway made by the group. The general impression of the time was that airplanes would never amount to much in actual warfare. One official felt otherwise, and the group was finally invited to the base at Petawawa to unveil their machine. The sandy terrain there proved to be the wrong thing for an aircraft with landing wheels about 2 inches in diameter, and there was great difficulty taking off. Worse still, on the fifth flight McCurdy wrecked the craft on landing when one wheel struck a rise in the ground. Thus ended the career of the Silver Dart.

The Museum aircraft, which is covered with doped linen, is an airworthy replica built by RCAF volunteers between 1956 and 1958. The aircraft was flown at Baddeck on the 50th anniversary of the original flight, but crashed due to high, gusty winds. It was repaired for display at the Canada Aviation Museum.

Feb. 23, 1909
John A.D. McCurdy flies his Silver Dart over the frozen Bras d'Or Lakes at Baddeck, N.S. The first powered and controlled flight in the British Empire.

Mar. 02, 1909
The Aeronautical Society of New York places an order for a Curtiss No. 1 airplane.


1 (aka Golden Flier) 1909 = 1pOB; 25-30hp 4-cyl Curtiss water-cooled pusher; span: 28'9" length: 30'4" (>30'6") v: 45/x/x. Glenn Curtiss, developed from AEA June Bug; aka Aeronautic Society of New York Model D Golden Flier, since the first one was contracted for by that Society. Although often referred to as Herring-Curtiss, it was actually built after the partners' dissolution. Erroneously called "Gold Bug" from newsmen's contamination of names, it was flown in exhibitions by Curtiss and Charles F Willard. POP: 9, included winning 1909 Rheims Racer and 1910 Banshee Express (p: Charles Willard) with 50hp Willard-Curtiss pusher. Herring's contribution, besides that as a temporary partner, was his alleged invention of a gyroscopic stabilization device (claimed, but unsubstantiated, 1909 US patent #12,256), which would circumvent the Wright's aileron patents, but which was never used on any Curtiss machine. []

Mar. 20, 1909
Glenn Curtiss and Augustus Herring form the Herring-Curtiss Company, starting with $360,000.

Mar. 31, 1909
The Aerial Experiment Association officially dissolves.

Apr. 1909
A.G. Bell and assistants F.W. Baldwin and J.A.D. McCurdy form the first Aviation company in Canada, the Canadian Aerodrome Company, in Baddeck, N.S.

Aug. 2, 1909
Petawawa, the site of the first flight in Ontario, J.A.D. McCurdy pilots the Silver Dart for a series of planned flights for the Canadian Armed Forces (Militia). During the fourth flight of the same day the Silver Dart crashed and was damaged beyond repair.

Aug. 11 1909
Baddeck No. 1 completes a short flight of 100 metres at Petawawa.


Aug. 22 - 29, 1909
Glenn Curtiss wins the Gordon Bennett Trophy race in his own Reims Racer. He beat the second-place Bleriot by 5.8 seconds, flying two laps in 15 mins. 50.4 sec. at an average speed of 46.6 m.p.h.


Gordon Bennett Trophy

2, Rheims (Reims) Racer (aka Herring-Curtiss Model D) 1909 = 1pOB; 63hp Curtiss V8; span: 34'0" length: 30'4". A larger, re-engined version of Curtiss' first effort, used for competition in the 1909 Gordon Bennett Cup Race at Rheims (now: Reims), France, where Curtiss set a speed record (47.06 mph), as well as winning events at Brescia, Italy, and for subsequent exhibition flights in the US. Also set a speed record of 55 mph at first US air meet, 1/10-20/10, at Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles, attended by an estimated crowd of 30,000. Sold to Charles K Hamilton, who flew exhibitions in it until he crashed at Seattle on 3/12/10. []

Sep. 1909
The CAC workers complete structural work on the Baddeck No. 2 and move the factory from Beinn Bhreagh to a meadow on the Baddeck River(Bentick Farm).

Sep. 30, 1909
First flight of Baddeck No. 2 at Bentick Farm. After a couple of short jumps the craft makes a flight of half a mile.


Oct. 07, 1909
Glenn Curtiss becomes first American to hold an FAI airplane certificate.


Jan. 10 - 20, 1910
Glenn Curtiss participates in the first large-scale air show in the U.S., at Dominguez Fields approximately 10 miles south of Los Angeles. He sets a new air speed record of 54.7 m.p.h. in one of his own biplanes. The Curtiss team makes $10,250 in prizes overall.


Aviation Meet, Los Angeles, Jan. 10 - 20, 1910

Mar. 7, 1910
The Canadian Aerodrome Co.'s Baddeck No. 2 biplane was flown by J.A.D. McCurdy with F.W. baldwin as passenger at Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

Mar. 28, 1910
Martigues, France. On this date, for the first time, an airplane took off from water. At the controls of his powered seaplane, the Canard, was Henri Fabre, a 28-year old engineer from Marseilles. This was Fabre's first flight. The flight took place at Lake Berre near Martigues on the Mediterranean.


Apr. 13, 1910
The CAC loses Casey Baldwin who accompanies Dr. Bell on a world cruise.

Apr. 1910
Bell visits Australia and meets with Lawrence Hargrave.


May 29, 1910
Glenn Curtiss flies his Hudson Flyer biplane from Albany to N.Y.C. in 51 mins., winning the $10,000 New York World Hudson-Fulton Centenary Prize for this purpose. This is the longest U.S. flight to date, for which he also wins the Scientific American trophy.

image : hudson_flyer_large.jpg

Curtiss Albany Flyer (aka Hudson Flier) 1910 = 1pOBF version of D; 50hp Curtiss water-cooled V-8 pusher; span: 31'3" length; 26'3". POP: 1 for the New York World$10,000-prize Albany-New York City flight of 143 miles, which Curtiss handily won on 5/29/10 (time: 2h:46m, v: average 54.18 mph), along with his third Scientific American trophy. Later became the first airplane to fly from the deck of a ship (cruiser USS Birmingham,)at Hampton Roads VA on 11/14/10 (p: Eugene Ely). On 1/30/11, it was ditched at sea on a Key West-Havana flight (p: J A D McCurdy) and damaged during retrieval onto a ship, but repaired for Cuban exhibition flights. After that, the trail fades and its disposition is unknown. []

The "Hudson Flyer" is the plane Glenn Curtiss used to fly from Albany to New York City on May 29, 1910. It was not a hydroplane, although provisions were made to provide floatation in case Curtiss was forced to descend to the Hudson River. A board was placed from the front wheel to the rear axle. It was covered by canvas tacked on the edge and filled with corks. An angled water deflector was mounted in front of the front wheel. Tubular tanks were added under the lower wing for floatation. An extra section was added to each end of the top wing to provide lift for the extra weight. The front elevator had a double surface. Curtiss tested the floatation by landing in Lake Keuka. The plane did not sink, but it had to be towed to shore.

The radiator for the liquid cooled V8 engine can be seen behind the pilot's head. The tubular gasoline tank is above his head under the top wing. Pushing and pulling the wheel operates the front elevators. Turning the wheel operates the rear rudder. Leaning from side to side operates the yoke around the pilots shoulders to control the ailerons which are between the wings and attached to the two outboard front inter-wing struts.

This picture was made at Hammondsport, NY, the site of Curtiss' motorcycle factory.

Jun. 17 1910
The CAC closes its factory as McCurdy leaves to become a barnstormer for Glenn Curtiss's company.

Jun. 30, 1910
Glenn Curtiss demonstrates aerial bombing from one of his own aircraft to Navy officers. He drops eight inch long lead pipes on a warship-shaped target, which was hit with 18 of the 20 'bombs' -- scoring a hit 15 in 17 times. Adm. Kimball was one of those observers.

Aug. 27, 1910
Sheepshead Bay, NY. Flying at 656 feet over a rally at the Sheepshead Bay racecourse, Frederick "Casey" Baldwin and J. A. D. McCurdy took turns flying and sending radio signals to the ground below. With a light transmitter in a Curtiss biplane trailing a 49-foot aerial, the duo used a telegraph key on the steering wheel to send a Morse code message.

Oct. 5, 1910
First Canadian subject to obtain a pilot's license was J.A.D. McCurdy from the Aero Club of America, No. 18

Nov. 14, 1910
Curtiss professional test pilot, Eugene Ely, made the first successful take-off from a ship, the light cruiser USS Birmingham. On this flight Ely flew a Curtiss Model D biplane.


Jan. 18, 1911
USS Pennsylvania, San Francisco Bay, CA. Curtiss test pilot Eugene Ely flying a Curtiss Model D biplane recorded the first landing of an aeroplane on a ship, the cruiser USS Pennsylvania.

Jan. 30, 1911
The first airplane rescue at sea was made by the destroyer "Terry", when downed pilot, James McCurdy, was forced to land in the ocean about 10 miles from Havana, Cuba.

Feb 01, 1911
Glenn Curtiss and Neil Burgess together become the first licensed aircraft manufacturer in the U.S.

Feb 17, 1911
Glenn Curtis makes the first hydroplane flight to and from a ship. He flew from an island near San Diego, CA to the USS Pennsylvania and back again. (Xenia Daily Gazette, p 4A, 2/17/2001)

Apr. 11, 1911
The US Army establishes its first flying school at College Park, Maryland.


May 8, 1911
Naval Aviation began , with the purchase of two hydroplane versions of the Curtiss Pusher aircraft to be designated A-l and named Triad for its ability to fly and operate from either land or water. [ ]

image : 026128-25_curtiss_A-1.jpg

Jul. 01, 1911
Lake Keuka, Hammondsport, NY. The first aircraft of the U.S. Navy, the Curtiss A-1 'Triad' Hydro-aeroplane, is flown for the first time by Glenn Curtiss himself. The flight, which started at 6:50pm, lasts five minutes and is flown at a height of 25 ft.

A-1 Triad 1911 = USN patrol land/hydroplane, the Navy's first airplane. 2pOB; 75hp Curtiss V-8 pusher; span: 37'0" length: 27'7" v: 60/x/x range: 112. Gross wt: 1575#. POP: 2. Became AH-1. A-1 was used in a variety of aerial "firsts" - first cross-country flight, 112 miles in 122 minutes; first (albeit unsuccessful) catapult launch; first night landing on water without lights. Also set a world seaplane altitude record of 900'. After 285 flights, the two planes faded into history.

Dec. 05, 1911
Glenn Curtiss is issued a patent for the aileron after legal battle with the Wright brothers


Jan. 10, 1912
The World's first flying-boat airplane, designed by Glenn Curtiss, makes its maiden flight at Hammondsport.


Mar. 9-17 1912
Dr. Bell commissioned McCurdy to construct a tetrahedral flying machine. The Cygnet III, as it was known made several attempts to fly but never succeeded.

Nov. 27, 1912
On this date, the Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps received its first "flying boat," a Curtiss Model F.

May 28, 1914
The Langley Aerodrome is flown successfully by Glenn Curtiss, who has rebuilt and greatly modified the aircraft for Mr. Walcott, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Together, they planned to prove that an aircraft could have flown prior to the Wright brother's first flight and hoped this would invalidate their commercially valuable patents. See detailed summary below "Glenn Curtiss and Samuel Langley"


Sep. 12, 1916
USA. The Hewitt-Sperry biplane, in effect the world's first radio-guided flying-bomb, was tested in America. The craft was designed by Lawrence Sperry and was built by Curtiss. The aircraft has a 50 mile range, can carry up to 300-lbs of bombs, and is powered by a 10-hp engine.


May 8 - 31, 1919
First crossing of the North Atlantic by air achieved by Lt. Cdr. A. C. Read of the US Navy, flying a Navy Curtiss NC-4 flying-boat.


Glenn Curtiss and Samuel Langley

On May 28, 1914, the 'Langley Aerodrome' is flown successfully by Glenn Curtiss, who has rebuilt and greatly modified the aircraft for Mr. Walcott, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Curtiss and Mr. Walcott, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, are determined to prove that a machine could have flown before the Wrights' first flight, thereby invalidate their commercially valuable patents.

and from, ...

The fourth Secretary (a largely self-taught geologist and paleontologist named Charles D. Walcott) staunchly defended his predecessor's aeronautical experiments. In 1914, to determine whether it had been capable of sustained flight, he agreed to a reconstruction of Langley's 1903 Aerodrome by the aeronautical pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss.

During tests, however, Curtiss made considerable alterations. In what was one of Walcott's few lapses in judgment, when the experiments proved successful the Smithsonian published a statement describing the Aerodrome as "the first aircraft in history capable of flight with a pilot and several hundred pounds of useful load."

When the "restored" Aerodrome was put on exhibit in the National Museum in 1918, the label identified it as "The Original, Full-size Langley Flying Machine, 1903." Another label-"The first man-carrying aeroplane in the history of the world capable of sustained free flight"-was soon substituted, and later modified with the qualification: "in the opinion of many competent to judge."

These claims prolonged an ongoing patent controversy over the Wright brothers' flight designs, and seemed to align the Smithsonian with those challenging the Wrights both for the honor of being first in flight and the money deriving from that honor.

They briefly cast the Smithsonian's probity in doubt, and soured relations between the institution and Orville Wright, one of America's greatest heroes, at a time when war again aroused interest in airplanes as strategic weapons. Meanwhile, Wright sent the Flyer to London's Science Museum, where many feared it would remain.

Curtiss-Langley 'Aerodome' Gallery


The Curtiss-Langley Aerodome Flight, May 28, 1914

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The Curtiss-Langley Aerodome Flight, May 28, 1914


The Curtiss-Langley Aerodome Flight, May 28, 1914


The Curtiss-Langley Aerodome Flight, May 28, 1914


The Curtiss-Langley Aerodome Flight, May 28, 1914


The Curtiss-Langley Aerodome Flight, May 28, 1914

An excellent appraisal of the Curtiss modified 'Langley' Aerodrome by David 'Dannysoar' Dodge is available here

Over and on the Sea : The Pioneers of the Seaplane

which in part says...

One of the next major advancements in human flight came in response to a contest sponsored by The Daily Mail of London, which offered a prize to the first aviator to fly across the English Channel. Louis Blériot (1872-1936) won the contest, flying from Calais, France, to Dover, England, on July 25, 1909, in a monoplane of his own design with a 25-horsepower engine. His flight caused concern among the British that the airplane could eventually be used for military aggression, and the world came to see the airplane as a future weapon.

The pioneers of the seaplane were Henri Fabre (1882-1984) and Glenn H. Curtiss (1878-1930). Fabre is generally credited with making the first seaplane flight, on March 28, 1910, at Martigues, France. His seaplane, or hydravion, had a 50-horsepower Gnome rotary engine and was mounted on lightweight hollow wooden floats. The apparatus flew only short distances, however, and just two months later it was wrecked when it took a sudden nosedive into the Mediterranean.

The first practical seaplane was constructed and flown by Curtiss in 1911, and in 1919 one of Curtiss's "flying boats" made the first transatlantic crossing (with stops). He became one of the most successful American aircraft builders in the decades following the invention of the airplane.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell

which in part says...

After 1895 Bell's interest turned mostly to aeronautics. Many of his inventions in this area were first tested near his summer home at Baddeck on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. His study of flight began with the construction of large kites, and in 1907 he devised a kite capable of carrying a person.

With a group of associates, including the American inventor and aviator Glenn Hammond Curtiss, Bell developed the aileron, a movable section of an airplane wing that controls roll. They also developed the tricycle landing gear, which first permitted takeoff and landing on a flying field.

Applying the principles of aeronautics to marine propulsion, his group started work on hydrofoil boats, which travel above the water at high speeds. His final full-sized "hydrodrome," developed in 1917, reached speeds in excess of 113 km/h (70 mph) and for many years was the fastest boat in the world.

The Aerial Experiment Association

which in part says...

Glenn Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell had first met in New York in 1905, at which time Bell invited Curtiss to visit him at his summer home, Beinn Bhreagh (Gaelic for "Lovely Mountain"), near Baddeck on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. In that cool, remote retreat among the rocks and pines, Bell had been conducting a series of experiments with tetrahedral kites---four-sided, lightweight aluminum frames covered with silk---one of which, a large and relatively strong model, possessed great inherent stability.

Bell was anxious to attach one of the Curtiss motors to it as part of his studies in aerodynamic lift, propulsion, and control, for he had set his sights on the contstruction of a machine that would fly even before the Wrights had taken off at Kitty Hawk. In January 1903, for example, Bell was quoted by the Boston Transcript as hypothesizing that "an aeroplane kite could carry the weiight of a motor and a man." Realization of this exploit would be only one step short of the goal of free flight.

Bell had gathered around him at Baddeck a group of bright young men, including two recent graduates in mechanical engineering of the University of Toronto: Frederick Walker ("Casey") Baldwin (no relation to the balloonist) and John A. D. McCurdy, son of an inventor, who was to mature into one of America's foremost aviators.

Villard, Henry Serrano, Contact, The Story of the Early Birds

also, see...

Aerial Experiment Association

A Most Noble Experiment

Bell's Boys

A.E.A. Silver Dart

and for more on members of the AEA, see...

Dr Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922)

National Aviation Hall of Fame

The Bell Family Collection

Lt. Thomas Etholen Selfridge (1882 - 1908)

Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge

National Aviation Hall of Fame

John Alexander Douglas McCurdy (1886-1961)

Great Aviators : John Alexander Douglas McCurdy

John A.D. McCurdy 1886-1961

Glenn H. Curtiss (1878 - 1930)

Aerofiles : Glenn Curtiss

Glenn H. Curtiss : The Henry Ford of Aviation

Vintage Views of New York : Glenn Curtiss



Glenn Hammond Curtiss

Glenn Hammond Curtiss - To Get into the Air

June Bug

Glen Curtiss : 1909

Wing Warping, Ailerons, and Litigation

The Hudson River Flight

Curtis and the Flying Boat

National Aviation Hall of Fame : Glen Hammond Curtiss

Glenn Curtiss : Father of Naval Aviation

Search San Diego Historical Society for: Glenn Curtiss

Glenn Curtiss, San Diego aviation pioneer

Stineman photographs : San Diego : Glenn Curtiss

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