Curtiss, Glenn Hammond, 1878-1930

Alternative names
Birth 1878-05-21
Death 1930-07-23

Biographical notes:

Glenn Hammond Curtiss (1878-1930) was an aviator and businessman. He developed the first practical amphibious airplane, as well as testing ship-based take-offs and landings.

From the description of Glenn Hammond Curtiss photographs of early aviation, circa 1900s-1930s. (Brigham Young University). WorldCat record id: 231717817

Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930), a successful motorcycle manufacturer in Hammondsport, New York, became legendary in the aviation world. Curtiss' entree into aviation came in the early years of 1900 when balloonist Thomas Baldwin used a Curtiss-built engine to power a balloon. By 1906 nearly all dirigibles in the U.S. were using a Curtiss engine. One of Curtiss' engines powered the first U.S. Army aircraft, the dirigible SC-1. In 1907, Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell, founded the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) which designed and built several aircraft. One of the aircraft built by the AEA was the first American aircraft to be equipped with ailerons, the White Wing. The invention of the aileron led to a patent fight between Curtiss and the Wright brothers. The AEA also built the first seaplane to be flown in the United States.

Curtiss continued to prove himself as a leader in the air. In 1908, Curtiss flew his plane, the June Bug, which was the first he had built, and won the Scientific American Trophy for making the first public flight of more than one kilometer in the United States. In 1909 at the Rheims Air Meet in France., Curtiss followed up his success by flying his Golden Flyer at the best speed in a two-lap triangular 6.2-mile course, averaging 47 miles per hour to win the Gordon Bennett Trophy and a $5,000 prize.

Other firsts in aviation achieved by a Curtiss plane include the first takeoff and landing on the deck of a ship in 1911, and the first transatlantic crossing in 1919 made by the NC-4. Curtiss also built the first U.S. Navy aircraft, called the Triad and trained the first two naval pilots. He received the prestigious Collier Trophy and the Aero Club Gold Medal in 1911.

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world during World War I. When it went public in 1916, it was the world's largest aviation company. During World War I, it produced 10,000 aircraft. In 1929, twelve Wright and Curtiss-affiliated companies merged to form The Curtiss-Wright Corporation. The company still exists.

From the guide to the Glenn Curtiss Collection, 1910-1924, (Wright State University, Special Collections and Archives)


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Ark ID:


  • Aircraft industry--United States
  • Curtiss aircraft
  • Aeronautics--History--Photographs
  • Seaplanes--United States--History
  • Aeronautics--Photographs
  • Aeronautics--United States--History
  • Airplanes--Photographs


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  • United States (as recorded)
  • Hammondsport (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • San Diego (Calif.) (as recorded)