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Glenn Curtiss

A video clip of Glenn Curtiss is available in the Video Section of the website.

Glenn Curtiss


Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930) grew up in Hammondsport, N.Y. where he designed and built one and two cylinder motorcycle engines. As early as 1906, Curtiss was trying to sell his engine designs to the Wright brothers for use in their aeroplanes. In 1908, Curtiss became involved in the American Experiment Association (AEA), a group formed by Alexander Graham Bell, as their Director of Experiments. The AEA focused on designing aircraft and in the same year (1908) was successful in building the "June Bug", an aircraft powered by a Curtiss engine that won the Scientific American Trophy for the first flight in the United States covering 1 kilometer.

In 1909, Curtiss shocked the European flying community by winning the Gorden Bennett Cup at the international air meet held at Reims, France. The Bennett cup was awarded for fastest flight speed and Curtiss won by attaining a speed of 46.5 miles per hour. At the 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet, Curtiss picked up $6500 in prize money in the categories of fastest speed, endurance, and quick starting.

Curtiss continued to design aircraft and was heavily involved in seaplane design for the U.S. Navy. He also implemented a flying school located in Hammondsport. Because of patent lawsuits and legal battles, Curtiss turned away from the aircraft industry and became a real estate speculator in Florida until his death in 1930.