Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sight Seeing

As I mentioned earlier, Terry and I drove up to Hammondsport, NY to visit the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum. We chose to do so because 1) we hadn't visited there yet and 2) Terry's EGA chapter out of Corning, NY had an exhibit of their work there that closes this Sunday.

While the ladies' works were nice--and allowed us as exhibitor and spouse free entrance to the museum--the museum itself was superb! Glenn Hammond Curtiss is overlooked as a pioneer in aviation but it was he and not the Wright brothers who made the first sustained flight of more than 5000 feet. (July 4, 1908) and he did so with all the pomp and pageantry and publicity before the fact that was possible. Unlike the Wrights who did their schtick on the beach on North Carolina in absolute secrecy. If he had failed to deliver, he and his little "June Bug" would have fallen flat on their kiesters.

The June Bug

The man designed, engineered, built, and raced bicycles, motorcycles, planes, and more.

For a long time he was the fastest man on earth. He did 135 MPH on an 8-cylinder, 40 horsepower motorcycle. It took two miles to get up to speed, one mile to clock that 135 mph in about 26 seconds, and one mile to come to a halt. He built engines--not brakes. An automobile took away the speed title after just a few years, but it wasn't until 1930 a motorcycle rider would go faster.

V8 40 horsepower Motorcycle

His "June Bug" flight of 1908 resulted his being awarded the first US pilot's license. In 1909 he won a race in France setting the initial world air speed record at 46.5 mph. And was awarded the #2 pilot's license in France.

In 1910 he trained the first female pilot in the US, Blanche Stuart Scott--who was quite a doer herself.

One of Curtiss' planes was the first to take off and land on a plywood deck on a naval vessel--in 1910-11 and, when an Admiral suggested that it couldn't become a habit because it would make the battleship's fighting capabilities, he came back a month later with a plane that could land and take off from the water alongside the ship--the forerunner of the seaplane.

Early Flying Boat

Curtiss built motorcycles and planes but later he also built up parts of Florida. Working with a former cattle rancher from out west, he helped develop both Hialeah and Miami Springs.

While living in Florida he liked to hunt in the Everglades...but didn't particularly care to rough it, apparently. 1928 he designed and built the Aerocar. basically the forerunner of today's travel trailers.

An Aerocar

And there are other things to see at the museum. Antigue cars, boats (Penn Yann racers and oared "trout boats") and much, much more. The museum also has various shows (like the Embroiders' Guild display that ends Sunday and the doll house show that begins Monday) throughout the year.

As Arnie would say, "I'll be back."

1 comment:

JDP said...

Looks like a great place to spend the day.