Alexander Bell and Glenn Curtiss Photographic Collection
A montage of just a few of the pictures
from the museum's collection.
Glenn Curtiss has sometimes been called the Henry Ford of Aviation. Along with the Wright brothers, Curtiss was one of the great aviation pioneers. When Curtiss was 30 years old on May 21, 1908, he made his first flight in a plane nick-named White Wing. White Wing was designed by the Aerial Experiment Association, a group led by Alexander Graham Bell. It was the first plane in America to be controlled by ailerons instead of the wing-warping used by the Wright brothers. Although the Wrights are credited with making the first powered flights, the achievements of Curtiss spanned several decades and progressed the airplane from wood, fabric, and wire beginnings to the forerunners of today's transport aircraft.
In 1910, Curtiss gained nationwide recognition along with $10,000 in prize money when the New York World newspaper offered $10,000 for the first successful flight between Albany and New York City. Curtiss set a long distance record when he flew the 150 mile trip in the Hudson Flyer.
Between 1908 and 1912, Curtiss designed and built several of the earliest hydroplanes and flying boats. He arranged for the first aircraft to take off and land from the decks of ships at sea. In Virginia on November 14, 1910, one of Curtiss's exhibition pilots, Eugene Ely, flew a plane from a wooden platform built over the deck of the USS Birmingham to shore. On January 18, 1911, Ely landed on a wooden platform built over the stern of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco bay.
Many new aircraft in those beginning days can credit their successful first flights to the OX series of engines designed by Curtiss. Approximately 12,600 engines were built and installed mostly in Canadian, British, and American aircraft during World War I. The OX-5, the last of the series, is best known.
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Last modified: June 8, 2007