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Full text of "The Curtiss aviation book"




II 111 I 



THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 



V 







Copyright, 1910, by The Pictorial News Co. 

CURTISS' HUDSON UIVEIi FLIGHT OVER THE STATUE OF LIBERTY 



THE CURTISS 
AVIATION BOOK 



BY 

GLENN H. CURTISS 

AND 

AUGUSTUS POST 

WITH CHAPTERS BY CAPTAIN PAUL W. BECK, U. S. A. 

LIEUTENANT THEODORE G. ELLYSON, U. S. N. 

AND HUGH ROBINSON 

With Numerous Illustrations from Photographs 




NEW YORK 

FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



Copyright, 1912, by 
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY 



All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign 
languages^ including the Scandinavian 




October, 1912 






TO 

MBS. MABEL G. BELL 

WHO MADE POSSIBLE THE AERIAL EXPERIMENT ASSOCIATION 

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED BY 

THE AUTHORS 



259861 



CONTENTS 
PAET I 

BOYHOOD AND EARLY EXPERIMENTS 

Augustus Post 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I THE COMING AIRMEN AN INTRODUCTORY CHAP- 
TER 3 

II BOYHOOD DAYS 8 

III BUILDING MOTORS AND MOTORCYCLE RACING . . 18 

IV BALDWIN'S BALLOON 29 



PAET II 

MY FIRST FLIGHTS Glenn H. Curtiss 

I BEGINNING TO FLY 37 

II FIRST FLIGHTS 41 

III THE "JUNE BUG" FIRST FLIGHTS TOR THE SCIEN- 

TIFIC AMERICAN TROPHY AND FIRST EXPERI- 
MENTS WITH THE HYDROAEROPLANE .... 51 

IV FIRST FLIGHTS IN NEW YORK CITY .... 57 

PAET III 

MY CHIEF FLIGHTS AND THE WORK OF 
TO-DAY Glenn H. Curtiss 

I THE RHEIMS MEET FIRST INTERNATIONAL AERO- 
PLANE CONTEST 65 

v 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

II HUDSON-FULTON CELEBRATION FlRST AMERICAN- 
INTERNATIONAL MEET, Los ANGELES .... 80 

III FLIGHT DOWN THE HUDSON RIVER FROM ALBANY 

TO NEW YORK CITY 91 

IV THE BEGINNING OF THE HYDROAEROPLANE . . . 112 
V DEVELOPING THE HYDROAEROPLANE AT SAN DIEGO 

THE HYDRO OF THE SUMMER OF 1912 . . . 129 

PAET IV 

THE REAL FUTURE OF THE AEROPLANE 

Glenn H. Curtiss, Capt. Beck, Lieut. Ellyson 

and Augustus Post 

I AEROPLANE SPEED OF THE FUTURE 155 

II FUTURE SURPRISES OF THE AEROPLANE HUNTING, 
TRAVEL, MAIL, WIRELESS, LIFE- SAVING, AND 
OTHER SPECIAL USES 168 

III THE FUTURE OF THE HYDRO 187 

IV FUTURE PROBLEMS OF AVIATION 193 

V THE AEROPLANE AS APPLIED TO THE ARMY 

Capt. Paul W. Beck, U. 8. A 205 

VI THE AEROPLANE FOR THE NAVY Lieut. Theodore 

G. Ellyzon, U. 8. N 219 

VII GLIDING AND CYCLE- SAILING A FUTURE SPORT 
FOR BOYS, THE AIRMEN OF TO-MORROW 
Augustus Post 227 

PAET V 

EVERY-DAY FLYING FOR PROFESSIONAL 
AND AMATEUR Glenn H. Curtiss, Au- 
gustus Post and Hugh Bobinson 

I TEACHING AVIATORS How AN AVIATOR FLIES . 235 
II AVIATION FOR AMATEURS . . 254 



CONTENTS vii 

CHAPTER PAGE 

III How IT FEELS TO FLY Augustus Post . . . 263 

IV OPERATING A HYDROAEROPLANE HughRoUnson . 272 

PAET VI 

THE CURTISS PUPILS AND A DESCRIPTION 

OF THE CURTISS AEROPLANE AND 

MOTORr-Augustus Post 

I PUPILS 281 

II A DESCRIPTION OF THE CURTISS BIPLANE . . . 287 
III THE CURTISS MOTOR AND FACTORY . . 296 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



CURTISS 7 HUDSON RIVER FLIGHT OVER THE STATUE OF LIB- 
ERTY Frontispiece 

FACING 
PAGE 

CURTISS THE BOY AND CURTISS THE MAN 20 

CURTISS WINNING WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE RECORDS ... 21 

THE BALDWIN ARMY DIRIGIBLE, WITH EARLY CURTISS MOTOR 30 

WIND WAGON AND ICE BOAT WITH AERIAL PROPELLER . . 31 

THE AERIAL EXPERIMENT ASSOCIATION 38 

STARTING TO FLY FIRST PUBLIC FLIGHT IN AMERICA; THE 
"JUNE BUG," JUNE, 1908; BALDWIN IN GLIDER . . 39 

THE FIRST MACHINES THE "WHITE WING" AND "RED 
WING" 52 

CURTISS 7 FIRST FLIGHT FOR THE SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 

TROPHY 53 

WINNING THE GORDON BENNETT CONTEST IN FRANCE . . 74 
PRESIDENT TAFT WATCHING CURTISS FLY, HARVARD MEET, 

1910 75 

THE ALBANY-NEW YORK FLIGHT START ; OVER WEST POINT 92 

THE HUDSON FLIGHT OVER STORM KING 93 

THE HUDSON FLIGHT STOP AT POUGHKEEPSIE ; FINISH, AT 
GOVERNOR'S ISLAND 106 

THE EVOLUTION OF THE HYDRO; THE FIRST HYDRO IN THE 
WORLD; DUAL CONTROL HYDRO OF 1911; LANDING IN 
HYDRO AT CEDAR POINT, OHIO 107 

ELY LANDING ON THE U. S. S. "PENNSYLVANIA" .... 120 

CURTISS AND HYDRO HOISTED ON U. S. S. "PENNSYLVANIA"; 

ELY LEAVING "PENNSYLVANIA" 121 

ix 



x ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING 
PAGE 

DIAGRAM OF CUBTISS FLYING BOAT OF 1912 146 

THE EVOLUTION OF THE HYDRO THE FLYING BOAT OF SUM- 
MER 1912; THE 1911 HYDRO 148 

HYDRO FLIGHTS CURTISS OVER LAKE ERIE; WITMER RIDING 

THE GROUND SWELLS 149 

CAPTAIN BECK AND POSTMASTER-GENERAL HITCHCOCK CAR- 
RYING THE MAIL 174 

STUDENTS OF AERIAL WARFARE BECK, TOWERS, ELLYSON, 
MCCLASKEY; WITH CURTISS AND ST. HENRY . . . 175 

ELLYSON LAUNCHES HYDRO FROM WIRE CABLE .... 224 
HUGH ROBINSON'S FLIGHT DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI . . . 225 
AUGUSTUS POST FLYING; AEROPLANE SHIPMENT .... 264 
CURTISS PUPILS J. A. D. MCCURDY RACING AN AUTOMOBILE; 

LIEUTENANT ELLYSON ; MR. AND MRS. W. B. ATWATER . 265 

CURTISS PUPILS C. C. WITMER, BECKWITH HAVENS, J. A. D. 
MCCURDY, CROMWELL DIXON, CHAS. K. HAMILTON, 
CHAS. F. WALSH, CHAS. F. WILLARD 282 

LINCOLN BEACHEY FLYING IN GORGE AT NIAGARA . . . 283 

DIAGRAM OF CURTISS AEROPLANE, SHOWING PARTS . . . 290 

DIAGRAM OF CURTISS MOTOR, SHOWING PARTS .... 291 

CURTISS MOTORS, OLD AND NEW 300 

AT THE AEROPLANE FACTORY, HAMMONDSPORT .... 301 



PART I 

BOYHOOD AND EARLY EXPERIMENTS 
OF GLENN H. CURTISS 

BY 

AUGUSTUS POST 



THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

CHAPTER I 

THE COMING AIRMEN AN INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER 

THE time lias come when the world is going to 
need a new type of men almost a new 
race. These are the Flying Men. The great 
dream of centuries has come true, and man now 
has the key to the sky. Every great invention 
which affects the habits and customs of a people 
brings about changes in the people themselves. 
How great, then, must be the changes to be 
brought about by the flying machine, and how 
strangely new the type of man that it carries up 
into a new world, under absolutely new condi- 
tions ! 

Each year there will be more need of flying 
men; so that in telling this story of a pioneer 
American aviator, his struggles, failures, and suc- 
cesses, it has been the desire to keep in mind not 
only the scientific elders who are interested in 
angles of incidence, automatic stability and the 
like, but also the boys and girls the air pilots 
of the future. It is hoped that there will be in 

3 



4 THE OUKTISS AVIATION BOOK 

these introductory chapters for whose writing, 
be it understood, Mr. Curtiss is not responsible 
a plain unvarnished story of an American boy who 
worked his way upward from the making of bicy- 
cles to the making of history, an inspiration for 
future flights, whether in imagination or aero- 
planes, and that even the youngest reader will 
gain courage to meet the obstacles and to over- 
come the difficulties which Glenn H. Curtiss met 
and overcame in his progress to fame. 

Here is a man who is a speed marvel who has 
beat the world at it. First on land, riding a mo- 
torcycle, next in a flying machine, and finally in a 
machine that was both water and air craft, which 
sped over the surface of the sea faster than man 
had ever travelled on that element, and which rose 
into the air and came back to land with the speed 
of the fastest express train ; a man who traveled 
at the rate of one hundred and thirty-seven miles 
an hour on land, fifty-eight miles an hour on the 
water and who won the first International speed 
championship in the air. 

More than that, they may see what sort of a 
boy came to be the speed champion and to know 
some of the traits that go to make the successful 
airman, for it is said of the great aviators, as of 
the great poets, they are born flying men, and not 
developed. The successful flying man and maker 
of flying machines, such as Glenn H. Curtiss has 
shown himself to be, realises how dangerous is 



THE COMING AIRMEN 5 

failure, and builds slowly. He builds, too, on his 
experience gained from day to day; having in- 
finite patience and dogged perseverance. And 
yet a great aviator must be possessed of such 
marvelous quickness of thought that he can think 
faster than the forces of nature can act, and he 
must act as fast as he thinks. 

He must be so completely in harmony with Na- 
ture and her moods that he can tell just when is 
the right time to attempt a dangerous experiment, 
and so thoroughly in control of himself that he 
can refuse to make the experiment when he knows 
it should not be made, even though urged by all 
those around him to go ahead. He must feel that 
nothing is impossible, and yet he must not at- 
tempt anything until he is sure that he is ready 
and every element of danger has been eliminated, 
so far as lies in human power. He must realise 
that he cannot change the forces of nature, but 
that he can make them do his work when he under- 
stands them. Some of these qualities must be in- 
bred in the man, but the life-story of Glenn H. 
Curtiss shows how far energy, courage, and tire- 
less perseverance will go toward bringing them 
out. 

It is from among the country boys that the best 
aviators will be found to meet the demands of the 
coming Flying Age. They have been getting 
ready for it for a long time long before the days 
of Darius Green. Does any one now read "Phae- 



6 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

ton Bogers," that story of the inventive boy back 
in the eighties, and recall the " wind- wagon" 
which was one of his many inventions? There 
were many like him then, and there are more like 
him now; always tinkering at something, trying 
to make it "go," and go fast. And there are 
many of these who are building up, perhaps with- 
out knowing it, the strong body, the steady brain, 
courage, perseverance, and the power of quick 
decision the character of the successful airmen 
of the future. 

The history of aviation is very brief, expressed 
in years. In effort it covers centuries. First 
come the inventors, a calm, cautious type of men, 
holding their ideas so well in trust that they will 
not risk their lives for mere display and the ap- 
plause of the crowd. Then the exploiters, eager 
for money and fame ; men who develop the possi- 
bilities of the machines, always asking more and 
getting more in the way of achievement with each 
new model built. Though covering a period of 
less than a half score of years, aviation already 
has its second generation of flyers, pupils trained 
by the pioneers, young and ambitious, eager to 
explore the new element that has been made pos- 
sible by their mentors. From the country dis- 
tricts, where the blood is red, the brain steady and 
the heart strong, will come many an explorer of 
the regions of the air. Just as the city boy in de- 
veloping the wireless telegraph strings his anten- 



THE COMING AIEMEN 7 

nae on the housetops and the roofs of the giant sky- 
scrapers, so will the country boy develop his 
glider or his aeroplane in the pasture lands and 
on the steep hillsides of his own particular terri- 
tory, and we shall have a race of flying men to 
carry on the development of the flying machine 
until it shall reach that long dreamed-of and 
f ought-f or perfection. 



CHAPTER II 

BOYHOOD DAYS 

GLENN HAMMOND CUETISS was born at 
Hammondsport, New York, May 21, 1878. 
His middle name shows his connection with the 
pioneer family for which the town is named. 
Then Hammondsport was a port for canal boats 
that came up Lake Keuka ; nowadays it is an air- 
port for the craft of the sky. It is a quaint little 
town, lying on the shores of a beautiful lake that 
stretches away to Penn Yann, twenty miles to the 
north. Glenn's old home was called Castle Hill. 
It was nearly surrounded by vineyards and fruit 
trees. It was once the property of Judge Ham- 
mond, who built the first house in Hammondsport. 
On this site now stands the Curtiss factories. 

All about Hammondsport are the great vine- 
yards that have made the town famous for its 
wine, for Hammondsport is in the very heart of 
the grape-growing section of New York State. 
These vineyards give the boys of Hammondsport 
a fine opportunity to earn money each year, and 
Glenn was always among those who spent the va- 
cation time in tying up grape vines, and in gather- 
ing the fruit on Saturdays and at other odd times. 

8 



BOYHOOD DAYS 9 

Some of the neighbours ' children picked winter- 
green and flowers, and sold them to the summer 
excursionists. One time Glenn was invited to go 
with them. He sold six bunches for sixty cents. 
His mother applied the amount toward a pair of 
shoes in order to teach him the use and value of 
money. He was then three years old and wore a 
fresh white dress and a blue sash. 

Glenn was afterwards taught how to prune and 
tie vines and gather fruit and at harvest time he 
was often seen with pony and wagon making a 
fast run to the station to get the last load of 
grapes on the train. 

With the care of his sister and the work on the 
home vineyard, life was not all play, for Glenn 
was "The Man of the House," after his father's 
death, which occurred when he was four years 
old. At this time, he went with his mother and 
sister, to live with his grandmother who lived on 
the outskirts of the village. 

Hammondsport is divided by the main street, 
and the boys of the two sections, like the boys in 
cities, were always at war. The factional lines 
were tightly drawn and many were the combats 
between the up-town boys and the low-town boys. 
The hill boys had a den in the side of a bank that 
sloped down from Grandma Curtiss ' yard, walled 
in with stones of a convenient size. This gave 
them good ammunition and a great advantage in 
time of battle. 



10 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

Among the members of the up-town gang were, 
"Fatty" Hastings and "Short" Wheeler, "Jess" 
Talmadge and "Cowboy" Wixom and Curtley, as 
the boys called Curtiss. He was captain of the 
band, because he had a sort of ownership of the 
den. Thus the war waged until one day they 
punctured Craton Wheeler's dog "Pickles," 
which so infuriated the enemy of the lower village 
that they were on the point of storming the fort 
in the hillside from above, and would no doubt 
have done so had they not chanced to trample 
upon Grandma Curtiss ' flower beds which caused 
this indignant lady to issue forth and put the en- 
tire gang to rout. The cave continued to be a 
safe refuge for the hillside gang until "Fatty" 
Hastings grew too big to squeeze through the en- 
trance and sometimes got stuck just as the gang 
was ready to sally forth against the enemy, or 
blocked the whole crew when they were in retreat. 

During the winter months Glenn gave his hand 
to making skate-sails, and became very proficient 
at it, and when summer came and the boys went 
on bird-nesting excursions in the woods, he was 
usually the daring one who allowed himself to be 
lowered by a rope over the cliff's edge or climbed 
to the topmost limbs of the big hickory trees. At 
school, mathematics was young Curtiss 's strong 
point, and when finally he came to pass his final 
examinations in the high school, he topped his 
class in that study with a perfect score of one 



BOYHOOD DAYS 11 

hundred, and in Algebra he stood ninety-nine. 
It is reassuring, however, to find that in spelling 
he was barely able to squeeze through with a per- 
centage of seventy-five. Glenn sometimes slipped 
up on the figuring, but the principle was usually 
right; he had figured that out beforehand. The 
boys of Hammondsport used to say that Glenn 
would think half an hour to do fifteen minutes' 
work. One wonders what they would have said, 
if they had been told that in after years he was to 
think and plan and scheme for a year, and then 
when he was all ready, to wait hour after hour, 
day after day, to accomplish something requiring 
a little more than two hours ' time ; like his flight 
from Albany to New York, the first great cross- 
country flight made in America. 

When Curtiss was twelve years old his family 
went to live in Kochester, New York, so that his 
sister might be able to attend a school for the deaf 
at that place. He went on working at Eochester 
after school hours and during vacation time, first 
as a telegraph messenger, then in the great East- 
man Kodak works, assembling cameras. He was 
one of the very first boys hired by that establish- 
ment to replace men at certain kinds of work, and 
while the men had received twelve dollars a week, 
Glenn received but four dollars. Before long, 
however, he had induced his employers to make 
his work a piece-work job, and had improved the 
process of manufacture and increased the produc- 



12 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

tion from two hundred and fifty to twenty-five 
hundred a day. He was thus able to earn from 
twelve to fifteen dollars a week. It was while em- 
ployed in the camera works at Eochester that 
Curtiss saved the life of a companion who had 
fallen through the ice on the Erie canal. When 
praised for his act of bravery he simply re- 
marked: "I pulled him out because I was the 
nearest to him." 

All during the time that Curtiss was working for 
others for wages, he continued to tinker making 
things and then taking them apart. Once he told 
some of his companions that he could make, out 
of a cigar box, a camera that would take a good 
picture. Of course they laughed at him and bet 
that he couldn't do it. But Glenn did do it, and a 
picture of his sister with a book was produced 
and is still unf aded, and in good condition, in pos- 
session of his family. He constructed a complete 
telegraph instrument out of spools, nails, tin, and 
wire and this so impressed the lady with whom 
the Curtisses boarded that she remarked to one of 
her friends that " Glenn Curtiss will make his 
mark in the world some day; you mark my 
words.'' This particular lady tells of the time 
that Glenn used to talk of airships, and he was not 
yet sixteen years old. Curtiss was fond of all 
sorts of sports, taking part in the games the boys 
would get up after school and on Saturdays. He 



BOYHOOD DAYS 13 

liked to play ball, to run, jump, swim, and to ride 
a bicycle. 

His time was too much taken up, however, with 
more productive efforts, such as the wiring of 
dwellings for electric light or telephones, to per- 
mit of much time being given to boyish sports. 

He was most original and had a keen sense of 
humour. He was fond of an argument, and had 
one striking characteristic ; once he had made up 
his mind as to the why and wherefore of a thing, 
he could never be induced to change it. To il- 
lustrate this trait ; one day an argument arose be- 
tween Glenn and another boy as to whether or not 
a whale is a fish, Glenn holding that it could be 
nothing but a fish. The other boy finally reen- 
f orced his argument by producing a dictionary to 
show that a whale is not a fish, whereupon Curtiss 
asserted that the dictionary was wrong and re- 
fused to accept it as authority. 

Curtiss was always eager for speed to get 
from one place to another in the quickest time 
with the least amount of effort. He was obsessed 
with the idea of travelling fast. One of the first 
things he remembers, says Curtiss, was seeing a 
sled made by one of his father's workmen for his 
son beat every other sled that dashed down the 
steep snow-clad hills around Hammondsport. He 
begged his father to let "Gene" make him a sled 
that would go faster than Linn's. "Gene" made 



14 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

the sled and Glenn painted it red, with a picture 
of a horse on it. Furthermore, he beat every sled 
in Hammondsport or thereabouts. 

The bicycle became all the rage when Curtis s 
was growing into his early teens and nothing was 
more certain than that he should have one as soon 
as he could earn enough money to buy it. And 
when he got it he made it serve his purposes in 
delivering telegrams, newspapers, and such like. 
He developed speed and staying powers as a rider, 
and soon thought nothing of making the trip from 
Eochester to Hammondsport to see his grand- 
mother, who still lived in the old home in that vil- 
lage. The roads of New York were not as good 
as they are nowadays, when the automobile forces 
improvements of the highways, but Curtiss rode 
fast nevertheless. In fact, he managed all his 
regular work this way. His idea was first, to 
find out just how to do it, and then do it. Then 
he would find out how fast a certain task could be 
performed, and get through with it at top speed. 
The surplus time he devoted to tinkering with 
something new. 

Grandmother Curtiss finally prevailed upon 
him to go back to Hammondsport and live with 
her. For a time after his return he assisted a lo- 
cal photographer and his experience in photogra- 
phy gained at this time has since proved of great 
value to him, and, incidentally, to the history of 
aviation; for in photographing his experiments 



BOYHOOD DAYS 15 

Curtiss' pictures have a distinct value, as much 
for being taken just at the right instant, as for 
their pictorial detail. Following his photo- 
graphic employment, Curtiss took charge of a bi- 
cycle repair shop. It was a little shop down by 
the principal hotel in Hammondsport, but Curtiss 
foresaw the popularity and later the cheapness 
of the bicycle, and he believed the shop would do 
a good business. James Smellie owned the shop, 
but Curtiss' mechanical skill soon asserted itself 
and he became the practical boss. This was in 
1897. George Lyon, a local jeweler, was a com- 
petitor of Smellie 's in the bicycle business, and 
got up a big race around the valley, a distance of 
five miles over the rough country roads. When 
Smellie heard of the race he made up his mind 
that Curtiss could win it and went about arrang- 
ing the equipment of his employe. That race has 
passed into the real history of the town of Ham- 
mondsport. Everybody in the town and the val- 
ley was there, and great was the excitement when 
the riders lined up for the start. They started 
from a point near the monument in front of the 
Episcopal church and within a few moments after 
the crack of the pistol they were all out of sight, 
swallowed up in the dust clouds that marked their 
progress up the valley. After a long interval of 
suspense a solitary rider appeared on the home 
stretch, hunched down over his handle-bars and 
riding for dear life, without a glance to right or 



16 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

left. It was Curtiss, who probably has never 
since felt the same thrill of pride at the shouts 
of the crowd. The next man was fully half a mile 
in the rear when Glenn crossed the finish-line. 

This was Curtiss ' first bicycle race, but later he 
acquired greater speed and experience and rode 
in many races at county fairs in the southern part 
of New York State. What's more, he won all of 
his races. This was good for his bicycle business, 
which thrived in the summer, but languished in 
the winter. During the dull period Curtiss took 
up electrical work, wiring houses, putting in elec- 
tric bells, and doing similar work of a mechanical 
nature. An incident is told of his mechanical 
skill at this time that illustrates his inquisitive 
mind. An acetylene gas generator in one of the 
stores got out of order one day, and no one in the 
store could tell just how to repair it. Curtiss 
had never seen a gas generator, but that did not 
deter him from going at it. He studied it out in 
a little while and then put his finger on the trou- 
ble. After that the generator worked better than 
ever. A little later he decided to build a gas gen- 
erator after his own ideas. He started with two 
tomato cans and built it. 

This was the first appearance of Curtiss' two 
tomato cans. They played an important part in 
his subsequent experimental work, figuring all the 
way through from this first gas generator to the 
carburetor of a motorcycle, and at last to enlarge 



BOYHOOD DAYS 17 

the water capacity of Charles K. Hamilton's en- 
gine on his aeroplane so that he might cool his 
engine better in making the record flight from 
New York to Philadelphia and return in the same 
day. In this first case the two tomato cans de- 
veloped into an acetylene gas plant with several 
improvements, and his own home and shop were 
lighted by it. Later the plant was enlarged so as 
to furnish light for several business houses of 
Hammondsport. 



CHAPTER in 

BUILDING MOTORS AND MOTORCYCLE RACING 

IN the spring of 1900 Curtiss embarked in the 
bicycle business for himself, opening a shop 
near his old place of employment. This shop 
soon came to be known as the " industrial incu- 
bator," because experiments of many kinds were 
tried there a hatching-place for all sorts of new 
machines. The first one developed was destined 
to open up to Curtiss a new field of action, one 
that furnished the opportunity for new speed rec- 
ords, and enlarged the scope of his activities be- 
yond the limits of the little town and the valley, 
and spread before him possibilities as wide as the 
boundaries of the continent. 

Curtiss had ridden a bicycle in races, and got 
the utmost speed out of it; but the bicycle, as a 
man-propelled vehicle, did not travel fast enough 
to suit him. He therefore set about devising 
means for increasing its speed possibilities. One 
day Smellie, his old employer, came into Curtiss' 
shop, tired out and perspiring from his efforts in 
pedaling his bicycle up the hill. " Glenn," he 
said, "I'm going to give the blamed thing up until 
they get something to push it." That was Cur- 

18 



MOTOES AND MOTOECYCLES 19 

tiss' cue, and it promptly became Ms problem 
getting something to push it! He determined to 
mount a gasoline engine on a bicycle, and at once 
began to search for the necessary castings. Fi- 
nally he secured them and began the task of 
building a motor. Unfortunately, the man who 
sold him the castings sent no instructions for 
building a motor, so the problem was left to Cur- 
tiss and to those who interested themselves in his 
work. They studied and planned and made ex- 
periments, learning something new about motors 
all the while. Eventually, with the assistance of 
local mechanics, the castings were " machined" 
and the motor assembled. 

Curtiss afterward described it as a remarkable 
contrivance ; but it did the work. This motor had 
a two-inch bore and a two-an-a-half-inch stroke, 
and drove the bicycle wheel by a friction roller 
pulley. First, Curtiss made the pulley of wood, 
then of leather, and finally of rubber. It was 
tried first on the front wheel and then on the rear 
one, and so numerous were the changes in and 
additions to its equipment, that the bystanders 
and there was the usual number of these saw 
only the humorous side of the thing and declared 
that it looked like a sort of Happy Hooligan bi- 
cycle with tin cans hung on wherever there was 
room. The tomato can again came to the front in 
Curtiss' experiments, and now served to fashion 
a rough and ready sort of carburetor, filled with 



20 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

gasoline and covered over with, a gauze screen, 
which sucked up the liquid by capillary attraction. 
Thus it vaporized and was conducted to the cylin- 
der by a pipe from the top of the can. 

Then came the first demonstration of a bicycle 
driven by power other than leg muscles, and it at- 
tracted almost as much attention in Hammonds- 
port as the first bicycle road race which Curtiss 
had won some years before. The newfangled 
machine, which the village oracle declared could 
not be made to go unless the rider put his legs to 
work, did not promise much of a success on its 
initial trip. Curtiss started off for the post-office, 
but had to pedal all the way there, the motor re- 
fusing to do its part. Coming from the post-of- 
fice, however, it began popping and shoved the 
wheels around at an amazing rate, while Curtiss 
sat calmly upright and viewed the excited citizens 
of Hammondsport as he sped by. 

That was the beginning of Curtiss' motorcycle; 
but the ambitious inventor did not rest with the 
first success. "Work at the " incubator" went on 
unceasingly. The young mechanical genius car- 
ried on his regular duties during the days but 
spent most of the nights in his experiments. 
Curtiss would not have said that he worked 
nights, but that he spent his evenings in "doping 
out" the best way to build something. He has 
never changed his habits in this respect. He still 
"dopes out" something for the next day or the 




(A) POST CARD SENT BY CURTISS TO HIS WIFE, JANUARY 24, 1907 

(B) CURTISS MAKING WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE RECORD, ORMOND 

BEACH 



MOTOES AND MOTORCYCLES 21 

next month while "resting" from his daylight du- 
ties; though the process would now be expressed 
in somewhat more scientific terms. In truth, one 
may say that Curtiss worked all the time. In of- 
fice or shop hours, like other persons, he did what 
he had to do ; while at other times he did what he 
wanted to do. Curtiss was different only in that 
he wanted to do those things which other people 
would call labor. Experimental work was recrea- 
tion to Curtiss, and because of this mental atti- 
tude he was able to stick at a task day and night 
and keep up ^ steam" all the while. 

Curtiss seldom planned on paper. Plans 
seemed to outline themselves in his active mind, 
and when, later, he became an employer of a num- 
ber of men, he simply outlined his ideas, describ- 
ing just what he wanted to accomplish, and left it 
to their ingenuity. Sometimes one of his assist- 
ants would ask him a question and after standing 
for minutes as if he had not heard, Curtiss would 
suddenly reply and outline a task which it would 
require all day to carry out. Once Curtiss had 
decided that a certain course of action would 
bring certain mechanical results, it usually turned 
out that way, and because of this and the further 
fact that he was as good a workman as he was a 
designer, the men he had gathered around him 
grew to regard his judgment as final and there- 
fore went ahead with absolute confidence as to the 
results. 



22 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

There was a remarkable spirit of cooperation 
in the " industrial incubator. " This spirit con- 
tinued through the early years of Curtiss' first 
business successes, and it obtains to-day in the big 
Curtiss aeroplane and motor factories at Ham- 
mondsport. The alertness of the men around 
Curtiss, and the atmosphere of cooperation may 
be due, in some measure, to the curious interest 
they always hold as to what he will do next and 
there is certain to be something happening out of 
the ordinary. Thus, work with Curtiss seldom 
becomes monotonous and without its surprises. 

To go back to the first motor Curtiss built; it 
was quickly found to be too small, and he secured 
another set of castings, as large as he could get. 
With these he constructed a motor with a cylin- 
der three and a half by five inches, and weighing 
a hundred and ninety pounds. This machine 
proved to be a terror. It is true that it exploded 
only occasionally, but when it did it almost tore 
itself loose from the frame. But it drove the mo- 
torcycle as fast as thirty miles an hour and gained 
such a remarkable reputation in Hammondsport 
that a story is still told in the town of the time 
Curtiss made his first trip with it, when it carried 
him through the village, up over the steep hills, 
through North Urbana and as far as Wayne, 
where it ran out of gasoline and came to a stop of 
its own accord. 

Thus Curtiss went ahead with his work to con- 



MOTOES AND MOTOBCYCLES 23 

struct and improve his motors, and improvement 
came with each successive one. The third motor 
was better suited to the needs of the bicycle and 
furnished better results. Meantime, Curtiss be- 
gan to receive inquiries and even some orders, 
and business took a decidedly favorable turn. 
Judge Monroe Wheeler took a great liking to the 
young man, who used to come over to his office to 
get the judge's stenographer to typewrite his let- 
ters, and helped him to establish credit at the 
local bank, and in other ways. Half a dozen fel- 
low-townsmen became interested enough in Cur- 
tiss' motorcycle experiments to put money into 
the business, and within a short time a little fac- 
tory was built on the hill back of Grandma Cur- 
tiss' house. It was an inconvenient place to put 
up a factory, and all the heavy material was 
hauled up to it with some difficulty, but the light, 
finished product, which in this case could go under 
its own power, rolled down the steep grade with- 
out trouble. In spite of these little obstacles; in 
spite of the fact that Hammondsport is located at 
the end of a little branch railroad which seems 
to the visitor to run only as the spirit moves the 
engineer in spite of every handicap, the business 
grew rapidly. 

Curtiss was, by this time, happily married and 
Mrs. Curtiss helped with the office work at the 
factory, which stood then, as it does to-day, at the 
very back door of the old Curtiss homestead on 



24 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

the hillside. Curtiss used to take out his best 
motorcycle in these days and go off alone to all 
the motorcycle races held in that section of the 
State. Incidentally, he scooped in all the prizes, 
for he had the fastest machine, and he was a fin- 
ished rider. On Memorial Day in 1903, Curtiss 
ventured far afield for an event that brought him 
his first notices in the big newspapers of New 
York City. He entered and won a hill-climbing 
contest at New York City, on Eiverside Drive, and 
immediately afterward mounted his wheel, rode 
up the Hudson to another race, at Empire City 
Track, and won that also. This gave him the 
American championship. 

Later, at Providence, E. L, he established a 
world's record for a single-cylinder motorcycle, 
covering a mile in fifty-six and two-fifths seconds. 
While this was phenomenal speed, it was as noth- 
ing in comparison with the record he was soon to 
establish. He built a two-cylinder motor and on 
January 28, 1904, at Ormond Beach, Florida, he 
rode ten miles in eight minutes fifty-four and 
two-fifth seconds, and established a world's record 
that stood for more than seven years. Curtiss 
was not content even with this. He wanted to 
travel faster than man had ever traveled before. 
He had built a forty horse-power, eight-cylinder 
motor for a customer who wanted it to put in a 
flying machine which he was building, and in or- 
der to try out the motor Curtiss built an especially 



MOTORS AND MOTORCYCLES 25 

strong motorcycle, using an automobile tire on 
the rear wheel and a motorcycle tire on the front 
wheel. On a strong frame the big forty horse- 
power motor was mounted. It was not given a 
thorough try out at Hammondsport, for it was 
winter and snow lay deep on the roads. With the 
aid of some of his shopmen, Curtiss took the 
freak machine out on the snow-covered roads, 
merely for the purpose of seeing if it could be 
started as it was geared in the machine. It 
proved that it would start all right, and so it was 
hurriedly boxed and rushed to the train, which 
was actually kept waiting several minutes. Cur- 
tiss was going South to make new records, and 
even the railroad men on the little branch road 
from Hammondsport to Bath, felt an interest in 
his undertaking. This, by the way, is typical of 
the way things are done at Hammondsport. 
When there is need for rushing matters, the men 
work night and day without complaint. These 
last-moment rushes are often due to the giving of 
much thought to the details before commencing 
to build, and sometimes because, in building, im- 
provements which must be incorporated suggest 
themselves. Curtiss' rule, as he expresses it, is: 
"What is the need of racing unless you think you 
are going to win ; and if you are beaten before you 
start, why take a chance?' ' But there are other 
considerations for the builder of racing machines 
to take into account. If your competitors know 



26 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

what you are doing, and they will know, somehow, 
if you give them a little time, they will go you one 
better. Therefore, this belated activity at the 
Curtiss factory is not always without its motive. 
Take, for instance, the first big International race 
for the Gordon Bennett aviation trophy, which 
Curtiss won at Eheims, France, in 1909. In spite 
of the fact that Curtiss ' motor was built in a great 
hurry, barely giving the necessary time to finish 
it and reach Eheims for the race, Bleriot, the 
chief French builder of the monoplane type, 
changed his motor as soon as he had read a de- 
scription of the one Curtiss was to use. 

The motorcycle which Curtiss had built and 
mounted with the eight-cylinder motor proved to 
be a world-beater the fastest vehicle ever built 
to carry a man. It was taken to Ormond Beach, 
Florida, where it was tried out on the smooth 
sandy shore, which stretches for miles, as level as 
a billiard table and almost as hard as asphalt. 
Here, on January 24, 1907, Curtiss mounted the 
heavy, ungainly vehicle and traveled a mile in 
twenty-six and two-fifth seconds, at the rate of 
one hundred and thirty-seven miles an hour! 
This stands to-day as the speed record for man 
and machine. Curtiss, without goggles and with 
no special precautions in the matter of costume, 
simply mounted the seat, took a two-mile running 
start before crossing the line, and was off. Bend- 
ing so low over the handle-bars that he almost 



MOTOES AND MOTOBCYCLES 27 

seemed to be lying flat and merged into a part of 
the machine itself, he flashed over the mile course 
in less time than it takes to read these dozen lines. 
This speed trial was the culmination of weeks of 
study, work, and experiment. Day after day, and 
even at night, Curtiss had schemed and worked; 
now to get the weight properly placed and bal- 
anced; here to strengthen the frame and over- 
come the danger from the torque, and the tendency 
to turn the machine over, and finally to obtain 
the right sort of tires and to put them on securely. 
Ordinary tires, on wiieels revolving at such an 
amazing speed, would have been cast off the rims 
like a belt off a pulley, by the centrifugal force. 

These and a thousand other details were worked 
out so thoroughly that the machine, when ready, 
required very little testing out. In describing the 
trial Curtiss said that he could see nothing but a 
streak of grey beach in front of him, a blur of 
hills on one side, and the white ribbon of foaming 
surf on the other. The great crowd that watched 
the smoking, whirring thing that flashed by as if 
fired from a great gun, caught but a fleeting 
glimpse of Curtiss. 

The record could not be accepted as official, be- 
cause the motor was too big and powerful to be 
classed as a motorcycle engine. It therefore 
stands as an absolutely unique performance, un- 
equalled, and not even approached as regards 
speed, until three years later, when Barney Old- 



28 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

field, driving a two hundred horse-power Benz 
automobile, covered a mile over the same course 
in twenty-seven and thirty-three hundredths sec- 
onds. 

Curtiss had developed, improved, and exhausted 
the motorcycle as far as speed possibilities were 
concerned, and was soon to give it up for some- 
thing of far greater potential possibilities the 
aeroplane. 



CHAPTEE IV 

BALDWIN'S BALLOON 

THOMAS SCOTT BALDWIN was engaged 
in building a dirigible balloon in Califor- 
nia when he chanced to see a new motorcycle, 
the motor of which seemed to be exactly what he 
wanted to propel his new airship. He learned 
that it was the design and product of a man 
named Curtiss, at Hammondsport, N. Y., with 
whom he entered into correspondence. The re- 
sult was that Captain Baldwin went to Ham- 
mondsport for a personal interview with the man 
who had turned out the motor. 

Baldwin expected to find, as he afterward said, 
a big, important-looking manufacturer, and great 
was his surprise to find a quiet, unassuming young 
man, scarcely more than a youth. The jovial 
Baldwin and the unobtrusive Curtiss became 
great friends at once. They discussed motors of 
all sorts, but particularly motors suitable for diri- 
gible balloons, then in the first stage of develop- 
ment. When Baldwin asked Curtiss the price of 
one of the type then used in the Curtiss motorcy- 
cle, he was surprised at its cheapness, and ordered 
one on the spot. This was built at once and 

29 



30 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

proved successful. Later several other motors 
were built at the Curtiss factory for Baldwin, each 
one showing some improvement, and some of them 
designed to meet the increasing demand for a 
more powerful motor of light weight for use in 
dirigible balloons. As a natural consequence of 
Baldwin's success with the use of the Curtiss 
motor, it was but a short time until it came to 
be the best known motor in America for aero- 
nautic work. At the St. Louis World's Fair, in 
1904, Captain Baldwin's " California Arrow," the 
only successful airship out of all those which 
were brought from Europe and every part of 
America to contest for big prizes, was equipped 
with one of Curtiss' motors. Baldwin's success 
at St. Louis was a triumph for Curtiss, and soon 
all dirigible balloons operating in this country 
were driven by Curtiss motors. 

Hammondsport was now to have a new sensation 
and to witness an experiment which eventually 
led to momentous developments. In order to test 
the power of the motors he was building for Cap- 
tain Baldwin, and for the purpose of determining 
the efficiency of his aerial propeller, Curtiss con- 
structed a "wind-wagon," a three-wheel vehicle 
with the motor and propeller mounted in the rear 
of the driver. When he took this queer contriv- 
ance out on the road for its first trial, the town of 
Hammondsport turned out to witness the fun. 
Consternation among the usually mild-eyed work 




Ss 

o 

< s 



f 











NEARLY UP IN THE AIR 
(A) The wind wagon Curtiss in 1904. (B) Ice boat with aerial propeller 



BALDWIN'S BALLOON 31 

horses spread throughout the little valley as the 
' ' wind- wagon " went scooting up and down the 
dusty roads, creating a fearful racket. Before 
the start was made an automobile was sent ahead 
to clear the way and to warn the drivers of other 
vehicles. The automobile, however, was quickly 
overhauled, passed, and left far in the rear by 
the whirring, spluttering, three-wheeled embry- 
onic flying machine. 

Protests by farmers, business-men and others 
quickly followed this experiment. They argued 
that it frightened the horses, made travel on the 
roads unsafe, and was "bad for business gener- 
ally/' As the machine had served its purpose 
with Curtiss, and had given Hammondsport its 
little diversion, the famous " wind-wagon " passed 
into history, and, like so many other of Curtiss' 
experiments, remains only in the memories of 
those who were directly interested or those who 
watched in idle curiosity. 

Other airships were built by Baldwin and Cur- 
tiss from time to time, and these were used suc- 
cessfully in giving exhibitions throughout the 
United States. The work of these two pioneers 
of the air had attracted the attention of the United 
States Government, in the meantime, and great 
was the elation at Hammondsport when an or- 
der came from the War Department at Wash- 
ington for a big dirigible balloon for the use of 
the Signal Corps. Baldwin was commissioned to 



32 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

build the balloon and Curtiss the motor to propel 
it. This was an important undertaking, and 
both Baldwin and Curtiss appreciated the fact. 
It marked the beginning of Governmental and 
military interest in aeronautics in this coun- 
try, the possibilities of which were already en- 
gaging the attention of the military authorities 
of Europe. The success of this airship meant 
much to both men, and Baldwin and Curtiss 
worked all through the winter of 1904-05 to 
make it so, Baldwin, meanwhile, having moved to 
Hammondsport in order to be in touch with the 
Curtiss factory, where all the mechanical parts 
of his airships were being made. 

In order to meet the specifications drawn up by 
the War Department, the big airship was required 
to make a continuous flight of two hours under the 
power of the motor, and be capable of manoeuvr- 
ing in any direction. Curtiss realised that in or- 
der to fill these requirements a new type motor 
would be needed. He designed and set about 
building, therefore, a water-cooled motor, some- 
thing which had not been attempted at the Curtiss 
factory up to this time, and the success of which 
marked a long step in advance. Although Bald- 
win had built thirteen dirigibles, all of which had 
been equipped with motors built by Curtiss, and 
all of which had been operated successfully in ex- 
hibitions, the Government contract was his most 
ambitious undertaking. About the balloon itself, 



BALDWIN'S BALLOON 33 

there was never any doubt; the thing that clung 
constantly in the minds of these men who were 
bending every effort to the conquest of the air, 
was : " Will the motor do its work in a two-hours' 
endurance test, and will it furnish the necessary 
power to drive the big airship at a speed of 
twenty miles an hour?" The conditions under 
which the trial was to be made were entirely 
unique. The motor had to be suspended on a 
light but substantial framework beneath the great 
gas-bag, and from this framework the pilot and 
the engineer had to do their work. 

The Army dirigible was completed on time and 
its test took place at Washington in the summer 
of 1905. Captain Baldwin acted as pilot and Cur- 
tiss as engineer. The airship met every specifi- 
cation and was accepted by the Government. A 
flight of two hours' duration was made over the 
wooded hills of Virginia, and this stands to-day 
as the longest continuous flight ever made by a 
dirigible airship in this country. 



PAET H 
MY FIRST FLIGHTS 

BY 

GLENN H. CUETISS 



CHAPTER I 

BEGINNING TO FLY 

IN 1905, while in New York City, I first met Dr. 
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the 
telephone. Dr. Bell had learned of our light- 
weight motors, used with success on the Baldwin 
dirigibles, and wanted to secure one for use in 
his experiments with kites. We had a very in- 
teresting talk on these experiments, and he asked 
me to visit him at Bienn Bhreagh, his summer 
home near Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Dr. Bell had 
developed some wonderfully light and strong tet- 
rahedral kites which possessed great inherent sta- 
bility, and he wanted a motor to install in one of 
them for purposes of experimentation. This kite 
was a very large one. The Doctor called it an 
" aerodrome." The surfaces not being planes, it 
could not properly be described as an aeroplane. 
He believed that the time would come when the 
framework of the aeroplane would have to be so 
large in proportion to its surface that it would be 
too heavy to fly. Consequently, he evolved the 
tetrahedral or cellular form of structure, which 
would allow of the size being increased indefi- 

37 



38 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

nitely, while the weight would be increased only 
in the same ratio. 

Dr. Bell had invited two young Canadian engi- 
neers, F. W. Baldwin and J. A. D. McCurdy, to 
assist him, and they were at Baddeck when I first 
visited there in the summer of 1907. Lieutenant 
Thomas Selfridge, of the United States Army, 
was also there. Naturally, there was a wide dis- 
cussion on the subject of aeronautics, and so nu- 
merous were the suggestions made and so many 
theories advanced, that Mrs. Bell suggested the 
formation of a scientific organisation, to be known 
as the "Aerial Experiment Association." This 
met with a prompt and hearty agreement and the 
association was created very much in the same 
manner as Dr. Bell had previously formed the 
"Volta Association' ' at Washington for develop- 
ing the phonograph. Mrs. Bell, who was most 
enthusiastic and helpful, generously offered to 
furnish the necessary funds for experimental 
work, and the object of the Association was offi- 
cially set forth as "to build a practical aeroplane 
which will carry a man and be driven through the 
air by its own power." 

Dr. Alexander Graham Bell was made chair- 
man; F. "W. Baldwin, chief engineer; J. A. D. 
McCurdy, assistant engineer and treasurer; and 
Lieut. Thomas Selfridge, secretary; while I was 
honored with the title of Director of Experiments 
and Chief Executive Officer. Both Baldwin and 






STARTING TO FLY 

(A) F. W. Baldwin makes first public flight In America. (B) The 
Bug," June, 1908. (C) Baldwin in Aerial Association's Glider 



June 



BEGINNING TO FLY 39 

McCurdy were fresh from Toronto University, 
where they had graduated as mechanical engi- 
neers, and Baldwin later earned the distinction of 
making the first public flight in a motor-driven, 
heavier-than-air machine. This was accomplished 
at Hammondsport, N. Y., March 12, 1908, over the 
ice on Lake Keuka. The machine used was Num- 
ber One, built by the Aerial Experiment Associa- 
tion, designed by Lieutenant Self ridge, and known 
as "The Bed Wing." The experiments carried 
on at Baddeck during the summer and fall of 1907 
covered a wide range. There were trials and 
tests with Dr. Bell's tetrahedral kites, with mo- 
tors, and with aerial propellers mounted on boats. 
Finally, at the suggestion of Lieutenant Selfridge, 
it was decided to move the scene of further experi- 
ments to Hammondsport, N. Y., where my factory 
is located, and there to build a glider. I had pre- 
ceded the other members of the Association from 
Baddeck to Hammondsport in order to prepare 
for the continuance of our work. A few days after 
my return I was in my office, talking to Mr. Augus- 
tus Post, then the Secretary of the Aero Club 
of America, when a telegram came from Dr. Bell, 
saying: "Start building. The boys will be down 
next week." As no plans had been outlined, and 
nothing definite settled upon in the way of imme- 
diate experiments, I was somewhat undecided as 
to just what to build. We then discussed the sub- 
ject of gliders for some time and I finally decided 



40 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

that the thing to do was to build a glider at the 
factory and to take advantage of the very abrupt 
and convenient hills at Hammondsport to try it 
out. We therefore built a double-surface glider 
of the Chanute type. 

As almost every schoolboy knows in this day of 
advanced information on aviation, a glider is, 
roughly speaking, an aeroplane without a motor. 
Usually it has practically the same surfaces as a 
modern aeroplane, and may be made to support a 
passenger by launching it from the top of a hill 
in order to give it sufficient impetus to sustain its 
own weight and that of a rider. If the hill is 
steep the glider will descend at a smaller angle 
than the slope of the hill, and thus glides of a 
considerable distance may be made with ease and 
comparative safety. 

Our first trials of the glider, which we built on 
the arrival of the members of the Experiment As- 
sociation, were made in the dead of winter, when 
the snow lay deep over the hillsides. This made 
very hard work for everybody. It was a case of 
trudging laboriously up the steep hillsides and 
hauling or carrying the glider to the top by slow 
stages. It was easy enough going down, but slow 
work going up; but we continued our trials with 
varied success until we considered ourselves skil- 
ful enough to undertake a motor-driven machine, 
which we mounted on runners. 



CHAPTEB II 

FIRST FLIGHTS 

IT was my desire to build a machine and install 
a motor at once, and thus take advantage of 
the opportunity furnished by the thick, smooth 
ice over Lake Keuka at that season of the year. 
But Lieutenant Selfridge, who had read a great 
deal about gliders and who had studied them 
from every angle, believed we should continue 
experimenting with the glider. However, we 
decided to build a machine which we believed 
would fly, and in due time a motor was installed 
and it was taken down on Lake Keuka to be tried 
out. We called it the "Red Wing," and to Lieu- 
tenant Selfridge belongs the honour of designing 
it, though all the members of the Aerial Experi- 
ment Association had some hand in its con- 
struction. We all had our own ideas about the 
design of this first machine, but to Lieutenant 
Selfridge was left the privilege of accepting or 
rejecting the many suggestions made from time 
to time, in order that greater progress might 
be made. A number of our suggestions were 
accepted, and while the machine as completed 

41 



42 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

cannot properly be described as the result of 
one man's ideas, the honour of being the final ar- 
biter of all the problems of its design certainly 
belongs to Lieutenant Selfridge. 

Now that the machine was completed and the 
motor installed, we waited for favourable weather 
to make the first trial. Winter weather around 
Lake Keuka is a very uncertain element, and we 
had a long, tiresome wait until the wintry gales 
that blew out of the north gave way to an intensely 
cold spell. Our opportunity came on March 12, 
1908. There was scarcely a bit of wind, but it 
was bitterly cold. Unfortunately, Lieutenant 
Selfridge was absent, having left Hammondsport 
on business, and " Casey " Baldwin was selected 
to make the first trial. We were all on edge with 
eagerness to see what the machine would do. 
Same of us were confident, others sceptical. 

Baldwin climbed into the seat, took the control 
in hand, and we cranked the motor. When we 
released our hold of the machine, it sped over the 
ice like a scared rabbit for two or three hundred 
feet, and then, much to our joy, it jumped into 
the air. This was what we had worked for 
through many long months, and naturally we 
watched the brief and uncertain course of Baldwin 
with a good deal of emotion. Rising to a height 
of six or eight feet, Baldwin flew the unheard-of 
distance of three hundred and eighteen feet, 
eleven inches! Then he came down ingloriously 



FIEST FLIGHTS 43 

on one wing. As we learned afterward, the frail 
framework of the tail had bent and the machine 
had flopped over on its side and dropped on the 
wing, which gave way and caused the machine to 
turn completely around. 

But it had been a successful flight and we took 
no toll of the damage to the machine or the cost. 
We had succeeded ! that was the main thing. We 
had actually flown the "Bed Wing" three hun- 
dred and eighteen feet and eleven inches! We 
knew now we could build a machine that would 
fly longer and come down at the direction of the 
operator with safety to both. 

It had taken just seven weeks to build the ma- 
chine and to get it ready for the trial ; it had taken 
just about twenty seconds to smash it. 

But a great thing had been accomplished. We 
had achieved the first public flight of a heavier- 
than-air machine in America! 

As our original plans provided for the building 
of one machine designed by each member of the 
Association, with the assistance of all the others, 
the building of the next one fell to Mr. Baldwin, 
and it was called the ' ' White Wing. ' ' The design 
of the "Red Wing" was followed in many details, 
but several things were added which we believed 
would give increased stability and greater flying 
power. The construction of the "White Wing" 
was begun at once, but before we could complete 
it the ice on the lake had yielded to the spring 



44 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

winds and we were therefore obliged to transfer 
our future trials to land. This required wheels 
for starting and alighting in the place of the ice 
runners used on the "Red Wing." An old half- 
mile race track a short distance up the valley 
from the Lake was rented and put in shape for 
flights. The place was called "Stony Brook 
Farm," and it was for a long time afterward the 
scene of our flying exploits at Hammondsport. 

It would be tiresome to the reader to be told of 
all the discouragements we met with; of the dis- 
heartening smashes we suffered; how almost ev- 
ery time we managed to get the new machine off 
the ground for brief but encouraging flights, it 
would come down so hard that something would 
give way and we would have to set about the task 
of building it up again. We soon learned that it 
was comparatively easy to get the machine up in 
the air, but it was most difficult to get it back to 
earth without smashing something. The fact 
was, we had not learned the art of landing an 
aeroplane with ease and safety an absolutely 
necessary art for every successful aviator to 
know. It seemed one day that the limit of hard 
luck had been reached, 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. 

Changes in the details of the machine were many 



FIKST FLIGHTS 45 

and frequent, and after each change there was a 
flight or an attempted flight. Sometimes we man- 
aged to make quite a flight, and others and more 
numerous merely short "jumps" that would 
land the machine in a potato patch or a cornfield, 
where, in the yielding ground, the wheels would 
crumple up and let the whole thing down. Up 
to this time we had always used silk to cover the 
planes, but this proved very expensive and we de- 
cided to try a substitute. An entirely new set of 
planes were made and the new covering put on 
them. They looked very pretty and white as we 
took the rebuilt machine out with every expecta- 
tion that it would fly. Great was our surprise, 
however, when it refused absolutely to make even 
an encouraging jump. For a time we were at a 
loss to understand it. Then the reason became 
as plain as day; we had used cotton to cover the 
planes, and, being porous, it would not furnish the 
sustaining power in flight. This was quickly rem- 
edied by coating the cotton covering with varnish, 
rendering it impervious to the air. After that it 
flew all right. I believe this was the first instance 
of the use of a liquid filler to coat the surface 
cloth. It is now used widely, both in this country 
and in Europe. 

We had a great many minor misfortunes with 
the "White Wing," but each one taught us a les- 
son. We gradually learned where the stresses 
and strains lay, and overcame them. Thus, little 



46 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

by little, the machine was reduced in weight, 
simplified in detail, and finally took on some sem- 
blance to the standard Curtiss aeroplane of to- 
day. 

All the members of the Aerial Experiment As- 
sociation were in Hammondsport at this time, in- 
cluding Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. We had 
established an office in the annex which had been 
built on the Curtiss homestead, and here took place 
nightly discussions on the work of the day past 
and the plans for the day to follow. Some of the 
boys named the office the "thinkorium." Every 
night the minutes of the previous meeting would 
be read and discussed. These minutes, by the 
way, were religiously kept by Lieutenant Self- 
ridge and later published in the form of a bulletin 
and sent to each member. Marvellous in range 
were the subjects brought up and talked over at 
these meetings! Dr. Bell was the source of the 
most unusual suggestions for discussion. Usually 
these were things he had given a great deal of 
thought and time to, and, therefore, his opinions 
on any of his hobbies were most interesting. For 
instance, he had collected a great deal of informa- 
tion on the genealogy of the Hyde family, com- 
prising some seven thousand individuals. These 
he had arranged in his card index system, in order 
to determine the proportion of male and female 
individuals, their relative length of life, and other 



FIKST FLIGHTS 47 

characteristics. Or, perhaps, the Doctor would 
talk about his scheme to influence the sex of sheep 
by a certain method of feeding; his early experi- 
ences with the telephone, the phonograph, the har- 
monic telegraph, and multiple telegraphy. At 
other times we would do a jig-saw puzzle with 
pictures of aeroplanes, or listen to lectures on 
physical culture by Dr. Alden, of the village. 
Then, for a change, we would discuss, with great 
interest and sincerity, the various methods of mak- 
ing sounds to accompany the action of a picture, 
behind the curtain of the moving-picture show, 
which we all had attended. Motorcycle construc- 
tion and operation were studied at the factory 
and on the roads around Hammondsport. Mc- 
Curdy used to give us daily demonstrations of 
how to fall off a motorcycle scientifically. He fell 
off so often, in fact, that we feared he would never 
make an aviator. In this opinion, of course, we 
were very much in error, as he became one of the 
first, and also one of the best aviators in the coun- 
try. Atmospheric pressure, the vacuum motor, 
Dr. Bell's tetrahedral construction, and even as- 
tronomical subjects all found a place in the 
nightly discussions at the "thinkorium." 

Of course there were many important things 
that took up our attention, but we could not always 
be grave and dignified. I recall one evening 
somebody started a discussion on the idea of ele- 



48 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

vating Trinity Church, in New York City, on the 
top of a skyscraper, and using the revenue from 
the ground rental to convert the heathen. This 
gave a decided shock to a ministerial visitor who 
happened to be present. 

When summer came on there were frequent mo- 
torcycle trips when the weather did not permit of 
flying, or when the shop was at work repairing 
one of our frequent smashes. " Casey " Baldwin 
and McCurdy furnished a surprise one day by a 
rather unusual long-distance trip on motorcycles. 
" Let's go up to Hamilton, Ontario," said Bald- 
win, probably choosing Hamilton as the destina- 
tion because he was charged with having a sweet- 
heart there. 

"All right," answered McCurdy. 

Without a moment's hesitation the two mounted 
their wheels, not even stopping to get their caps, 
and rode through to Hamilton, a hundred and fifty 
miles distant, buying everything they required 
along the way. They were gone a week and came 
back by the same route. 

A favourite subject of talk at the "thinkorium," 
at least between McCurdy and Selfridge, was on 
some of the effects of the "torque" of a propeller 
and whenever this arose we would expect the ar- 
gument to keep up until one or the other would 
fall asleep. 

After the nightly formal sessions of the mem- 
bers of the Association the courtesy of the floor 



FIEST FLIGHTS 49 

was extended to any one who might be present 
for the discussion of anything he might see fit 
to bring up. Later we would adjourn to Dr. 
Bell's room, where he would put himself into a 
comfortable position, light his inevitable pipe, and 
produce his note books. In these note books Dr. 
Bell would write down everything his thoughts 
on every subject imaginable, his ideas about many 
things, sketches, computations. All these he 
would sign, date, and have witnessed. It was 
Dr. Bell's custom to work at night when there 
were no distracting noises, though there were few 
of these at Hammondsport even during the day- 
light hours; at night it is quiet enough for the 
most exacting victim of insomnia. Dr. Bell often 
sat up until long after midnight, but he made up 
for the lost time by sleeping until noon. No one 
was allowed to wake him for any reason. The 
rest of us were up early in order to take advantage 
of the favourable flying conditions during the early 
morning hours. Dr. Bell had a strong aversion 
to the ringing of the telephone bell the great in- 
vention for which he is responsible. I occasion- 
ally went into his room and found the bell stuffed 
with paper, or wound around with towels. 

"Little did I think when I invented this thing," 
said Dr. Bell, one day when he had been awakened 
by the jingling of the bell, "that it would rise up 
to mock and annoy me." 

While the Doctor enjoyed his morning sleep we 



50 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

were out on " Stony Brook Farm" trying to fly. 
We had put up a tent against the side of an old 
sheep barn, and out of this we would haul the ma- 
chine while the grass was still wet with dew. 
One never knew what to expect of it. Sometimes 
a short flight would be made; at others, some- 
thing would break. Or, maybe, the wind would 
come up and this would force us to abandon all 
further trials for the day. Then it was back to 
the shop to work on some new device, or to repair 
damages until the wind died out with the setting 
of the sun. Early in the morning and late in 
the evening were the best periods of the day for 
our experimental work because of the absence of 
wind. 

On May 22, 1908, our second machine, the 
" White Wing," was brought to such a state of 
perfection that I flew it a distance of one thousand 
and seventeen feet in nineteen seconds, and landed 
without damage in a ploughed field outside the old 
race track. It was regarded as a remarkable 
flight at that time, and naturally, I felt very much 
elated. 



CHAPTER III 

THE "JUNE BUG" FIRST FLIGHTS FOR THE SCIEN- 
TIFIC AMERICAN TROPHY AND FIRST EXPERIMENTS 
WITH THE HYDROAEROPLANE 

FOLLOWING the success of the " White 
Wing/' we started in to build another ma- 
chine, embodying all that we had learned from our 
experience with the two previous ones. Follow- 
ing our custom of giving each machine a name to 
distinguish it from the preceding one, we called 
this third aeroplane the " June Bug." The name 
was aptly chosen, for it was a success from the 
very beginning. Indeed, it flew so well that we 
soon decided it was good enough to win the trophy 
which had been offered by The Scientific Ameri- 
can for the first public flight of one kilometer, or 
five-eights of a mile, straightaway. This trophy, 
by the way, was the first to be offered in this 
country for an aeroplane flight, and the condi- 
tions specified that it should become the property 
of the person winning it three years in succession. 
The "June Bug" was given a thorough try-out 
before we made arrangements to fly for the tro- 
phy, and we were confident it would fulfill the 
requirements. 

51 



52 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

The Fourth of July, 1908, was the day set for 
the trial. A large delegation of aero-club mem- 
bers came on from New York and Washington, 
among whom were Stanley Y. Beach, Allan E. 
Hawley, Augustus Post, David Fairchild, Chas. 
M. Manley, Christopher J. Lake, A. M. Herring, 
George H. Guy, E. L. Jones, Wilbur E. Kimball, 
Captain Thomas S. Baldwin and many other per- 
sonal friends. The excitement among the citizens 
of Hammondsport in general was little less than 
that existing among the members of the Aerial 
Experiment Association, and seldom had the 
Fourth of July been awaited with greater im- 
patience. 

When Independence Day finally dawned it did 
not look auspicious for the first official aeroplane 
flight for a trophy. Clouds boded rain and there 
was some wind. This did not deter the entire 
population of Hammondsport from gathering on 
the heights around the flying field, under the trees 
in the valley and, in fact, at every point of van- 
tage. Some were on the scene as early as five 
o'clock in the morning, and many brought along 
baskets of food and made a picnic of it. The rain 
came along toward noon, but the crowd hoisted 
its umbrellas or sought shelter under the trees 
and stayed on. Late in the afternoon the sky 
cleared and it began to look as if we were to have 
the chance to fly after all. The " June Bug" was 
brought out of its tent and the motor given a try- 



, 
v 





THE FIRST MACHINES 

(A) "The White Wing," Baldwin driving, 1908. (B) Selfrldge's "Red Wing" 
on the ice, Lake Keuka 



THE "JUNE BUG" 53 

out. It worked all right. The course was meas 
ured and a flag put up to mark the end. Every- 
thing was ready and about seven o'clock in the 
evening the motor was started and I climbed into 
the seat. When I gave the word to "let go" the 
"June Bug" skimmed along over the old race 
track for perhaps two hundred feet and then rose 
gracefully into the air. The crowd set up a 
hearty cheer, as I was told later for I could hear 
nothing but the roar of the motor and I saw noth- 
ing except the course and the flag marking a dis- 
tance of one kilometer. The flag was quickly 
reached and passed and still I kept the aeroplane 
up, flying as far as the open fields would permit, 
and finally coming down safely in a meadow, fully 
a mile from the starting place. I had thus ex- 
ceeded the requirements and had won the Scien- 
tific American Trophy for the first time. I might 
have gone a great deal farther, as the motor was 
working beautifully and I had the machine under 
perfect control, but to have prolonged the flight 
would have meant a turn in the air or passing 
over a number of large trees. The speed of this 
first official flight was closely computed at thirty- 
nine miles an hour. 

Dr. Bell had gone to Nova Scotia, unfortunately, 
and, therefore, did not witness the Fourth of July 
flight of the "June Bug." The other members, 
however, were all present. It was a great day 
for all of us and we were more confident than ever 



54 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

that we had evolved, out of our long and costly 
experiments, a machine that would fly successfully 
and with safety to the operator. Lieutenant Self- 
ridge was particularly enthusiastic, and I recall 
when Mr. Holcomb, special agent for a life in- 
surance company, visited the field one day and 
heard Selfridge talk about flying. 

"You must be careful, Selfridge," said Mr. 
Holcomb, "or we will need a bed for you in the 
hospital of which I am a trustee." 

"Oh, I am careful, all right," replied Selfridge, 
but it was only a few days later when he left Ham- 
mondsport for Washington, and was killed while 
flying as a passenger with Orville Wright at Fort 
Meyer. 

In Selfridge we lost not only one of the best- 
posted men in the field of aeronautics, a student 
and a man of practical ideas, but one of our best- 
loved companions and co-workers, as well. 

Three machines had thus far been built and 
flown, first the "Bed Wing," designed by Lieuten- 
ant Selfridge; next the "White Wing," by Bald- 
win, and last the ' l June Bug, ' ' by me. It was now 
McCurdy's turn and he designed a machine which 
he named the "Silver Dart." While this was 
building we decided to take the "June Bug" down 
to the lake, equip it with a set of pontoons, or a 
boat, and attempt to fly from the water. It was 
my idea that if we could design a float that would 
sustain the aeroplane on an even keel and at the 



THE "JUNE BUG" 55 

same time furnish a minimum of resistance, we 
would be able to get up enough speed to rise from 
the water. Besides, the lake would afford an ideal 
flying place, and, what was more important still, 
a fall or a bad landing would not be nearly so 
likely to result in injury to the aviator. 

Accordingly, we mounted the "June Bug" on 
two floats, built something like a catamaran, and 
re-named it the "Loon." It required some time 
to construct light and strong floats and it was not 
until the beginning of November, 1908, that we 
were ready for the first attempt to fly from the 
water ever made in this or any other country. 
The "Loon" was hauled down to the lake from 
the aerodrome on a two-wheeled cart, there being 
no wheels for rolling it over the ground. I re- 
member we had to build a platform on the cart 
and to strengthen the wheels to carry the weight 
of nearly one thousand pounds which the added 
equipment had brought the total weight up to. 

This first experimental hydroaeroplane was a 
crude affair as compared with the machine in 
which I made the first successful flight from and 
landing upon the water, more than three years 
later at San Diego, Cal. The cleaner lines, the 
neat, light-weight boat and the other details of the 
Curtiss hydroaeroplane offer as striking a con- 
trast to the "Loon" as the modern locomotive of- 
fers to the crude, clumsy affairs that now exist 
only in the museums. So great is the difference 



56 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

that one is inclined to marvel that we had any 
success whatever with the first design. 

We made many attempts to rise from the water 
in the "Loon," but owing to the great weight 
were unable to make any real flights, although 
the observers on shore were sure that the pon- 
toons were sometimes clear of the water. By the 
end of November our experiments had convinced 
every one of us that we needed more power and 
more time than we had at our disposal just then. 
The best motor we had at our command was able 
to deliver only enough power to drive the "Loon" 
at twenty-five miles an hour on the water. This 
was not enough to get the machine into the air, 
unless assisted by a strong head wind, and we 
were not anxious to try flying in a strong wind. 

In the meantime McCurdy 's machine, the "Sil- 
ver Dart," had been completed and mounted on 
wheels. The first flight was made by McCurdy on 
December 12, 1908, over the "Stony Brook" flying 
field. The "Silver Dart" was practically the 
same as the "June Bug." Shortly after this it 
was shipped to Dr. Bell's place at Baddeck, Nova 
Scotia, where McCurdy and "Casey" Baldwin 
used it all through the winter in practice, making 
flights from the ice and covering all the country 
thereabouts. McCurdy estimates that in his some 
two hundred flights in the "Silver Dart," he cov- 
ered more than a thousand miles. 



CHAPTEE IV 

FIRST FLIGHTS IN NEW YORK CITY 

AS a result of the winning of the Scientific 
American Trophy, the Aeronautical Society 
of New York City placed an order in the winter 
of 1908-09 for an aeroplane to be demonstrated 
at Morris Park Track, New York City, in the 
spring. 

Plans were outlined for enlarging the Ham- 
mondsport factory and work commenced on the 
machine ordered by the Aeronautical Society. It 
was the plan of this Society to purchase the aero- 
plane and have one or more of its members taught 
to fly it. The machine was finished in due time, 
thoroughly tried out at Hammondsport before it 
was shipped to New York, and finally sent to the 
old Morris Park Eace Track, where the Aeronaut- 
ical Society had arranged for the first public 
exhibition ever held in the history of aviation. 
There, on June 26, 1909, 1 had the honour of mak- 
ing the first aeroplane flights in New York City, 
in the machine bought by the Aeronautical So- 
ciety. 

The Society intended to make Morris Park the 
scene of aviation meets and of experiments with 

57 



58 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

gliders, but the grounds proved too small and I 
recommended a change to some other place in the 
vicinity of New York City, where there was plenty 
of open country and where the danger from un- 
expected landings would be minimized. I looked 
over all the suitable places around New York City 
and finally decided upon Mineola, on Long Is- 
land. The Hempstead Plains, a large, level tract 
lying just outside Mineola, offered an ideal place 
for flying and the Aeronautical Society machine 
was brought down there from Morris Park. 

There was such a fine field for flying at Mineola 
that I decided to make another try for the Scien- 
tific American trophy, which I had won on the 
previous Fourth of July at Hammondsport with 
the "June Bug." I wanted that trophy very 
much, but in order to become possessed of it I 
had to win it three years in succession, the condi- 
tions being changed from year to year to keep 
pace with the progress and development of avia- 
tion. The second year's conditions required a 
continuuous flight of more than twenty-five kilo- 
meters (about sixteen miles) in order to have the 
flight taken into account in awarding the prize, 
which was to go to the person making the longest 
official flight during the year. 

I believed I could make a fine showing at Hemp- 
stead Plains and preparations were made for the 
attempt. The aeroplane was put together near 
Peter MeLaughlin's hotel and a triangular course 



FLIGHTS IN NEW YOEK 59 

of one and a third miles was measured off. After 
I had made a number of trial flights over the 
course I sent formal notice to the Aero Club of 
America that all was ready for the official flight, 
and the Club sent Mr. Charles M. Manley down as 
official representative to observe the trial for the 
Scientific American trophy. 

On July 17th, 1909, a little more than a year 
from the first official flight of the " June Bug" at 
Hammondsport, we got out on the field at Mineola 
at sunrise, before the heavy dew was off the 
grass, and made ready. It was a memorable day 
for the residents of that particular section of. 
Long Island, who had never seen a flying machine 
prior to my brief trial flights there a few days 
before. They turned out in large numbers, even 
at that early hour, and there was a big delegation 
of newspapermen from the New York dailies on 
hand. Flying was such a novelty at that time 
that nine-tenths of the people who came to watch 
the preparations were sceptical while others de- 
clared that "that thing won't fly, so what's the 
use of waiting 'round." There was much excite- 
ment, therefore, when, at a quarter after five 
o'clock, on the morning of July 17, I made my 
first flight. This was for the Cortlandt Field 
Bishop prize of two hundred and fifty dollars, 
offered by the Aero Club of America to the first 
four persons who should fly one kilometer. It 
took just two and a half minutes to win this prize 



60 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

and immediately afterward I started for the 
Scientific American trophy. 

The weather was perfect and everything 
worked smoothly. I made twelve circuits of the 
course, which completed the twenty-five kilo- 
meters, in thirty-two minutes. The motor was 
working so nicely and the weather man was so 
favourable, that I decided to keep right on flying, 
until finally I had circled the course nineteen 
times and covered a distance of twenty-four and 
seven-tenths miles before landing. The average 
speed was probably about thirty-five miles an 
hour, although no official record of the speed was 
made. 

Great was the enthusiasm of the crowd when 
the flight ended. I confess that I, too, was en- 
thusiastic over the way the motor had worked 
and the ease with which the machine could be 
handled in flight. Best of all, I had the sense of 
satisfaction that the confidence imposed in me by 
my friends had been justified. 

As the machine built for the Aeronautical So- 
ciety had thus met every requirement, I agreed to 
teach two members to fly at Hempstead Plains. 
Mr. Charles F. Willard and Mr. Williams were 
the two chosen to take up instruction, and the 
work began at once. Mr. Willard proved an apt 
pupil and after a few lessons mastered the ma- 
chine and flew with confidence and success, cir- 
cling about the country around Mineola. 



FLIGHTS IN NEW YOBK 61 

These flights at Mineola gave that place a start 
as the headquarters for aviators, and it soon be- 
came the popular resort for everyone interested 
in aviation in and near the city of New York. 




SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN TROPHY 



PAET in 

MY CHIEF FLIGHTS AND THE WOKK OF 
TO-DAY 



BY 
H. CURTISS 



CHAPTEE I 

THE RHEIMS MEET FIRST INTERNATIONAL AEROPLANE 
CONTEST 

PRIOR to the first flights in New York City I 
had formulated plans for an improved ma- 
chine, designed for greater speed and equipped 
with a more powerful motor. I wanted to take 
part in the first contest for the Gordon Bennett 
Aviation cup at Rheims, France, August 22 to 29, 
1909. This was the first International Aviation 
Meet held, and much was expected of the French 
machines of the monoplane type. Great was my 
gratification, therefore, when I received word 
from the Aero Club of America, through Mr. 
Cortlandt Field Bishop, who was then president, 
that I had been chosen to represent America at 
Rheims. 1 

Without allowing my plans to become known to 
the public I began at once to build an eight-cyl- 

i It is interesting to note that Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm, the 
sole American entrant for the Gordon Bennett Balloon Cup in 
1906; Mr. Edgar Mix, the only representative of America in the 
balloon contest in 1909, and Mr. Charles Weymann, the only 
entrant from America in the Gordon Bennett Aviation Cup race 
of 1911, held in England, all won. 

65 



66 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

inder, V-shaped, fifty horse-power motor. This 
was practically double the horse-power I had been 
using. Work on the motor was pushed day and 
night at Hammondsport, as I had not an hour to 
spare. I had kept pretty close watch on every- 
thing that had been printed about the prepara- 
tions of the Frenchmen for the Gordon Bennett 
race and although it was reported that Bleriot, 
in his own monoplane, and Hubert Latham, in an 
Antoinette monoplane, had flown as fast as sixty 
miles an hour, I still felt confident. The speed 
of aeroplanes is so often exaggerated in press 
accounts that I did not believe all I read about 
Bleriot 's and Latham's trial flights. 

The motor was finished, but there was no time 
to put it in the new machine and try it out before 
sailing. It was, therefore, given a short run on 
the block, or testing-frame, hurriedly packed, and 
the entire equipment rushed to New York barely 
in time to catch the steamer for France. 

The time was so short between the arrival of 
our steamer and the opening of the meet that in 
order to get to Eheims in time to qualify, we had 
to take the aeroplane with us on the train as per- 
sonal baggage. Thanks to the kindness of the 
French railway officials, who realised our situa- 
tion, and evidently had imbibed some of the pre- 
vailing aviation enthusiasm, we arrived at Eheims 
in quick time. In those early days of aviation 
there was not the keen partisanship for mono- 



THE EHEIMS MEET 67 

plane or biplane that one finds everywhere to-day ; 
nor was there the strong popular feeling in 
France in favor of the monoplane that exists to- 
day. An aeroplane was simply an aeroplane at 
that time, and interesting as such, but naturally 
all Frenchmen favored their compatriots who 
were entered in the race, particularly Bleriot, who 
had just earned world-wide fame by his flight 
across the English channel. The Frenchmen, as 
well as Europeans in general, fully expected 
Bleriot to win with his fast monoplane. 

My own personal hopes lay in my motor. 
Judge of my surprise, therefore, upon arriving 
at Eheims, to learn that Bleriot, who had prob- 
ably heard through newspaper reports that I was 
bringing over an eight-cylinder motor, had him- 
self installed an eight-cylinder motor of eighty 
horse-power in one of his light monoplanes. 
When I learned this, I believed my chances were 
very slim indeed, if in fact they had not entirely 
disappeared. The monoplane is generally be- 
lieved to be faster than the biplane with equal 
power. I had just one aeroplane and one motor; 
if I smashed either of these it would be all over 
with America's chances in the first International 
Cup Eace. I had not the reserve equipment to 
bring out a new machine as fast as one was 
smashed, as Bleriot and other Frenchmen had. 
Incidentally, there were many of them smashed 
during the big meet on the Plain of Bethany. At 



68 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

one time, while flying, I saw as many as twelve 
machines strewn about the field, some wrecked 
and some disabled and being hauled slowly back 
to the hangars, by hand or by horses. For ob- 
vious reasons, therefore, I kept out of the dura- 
tion contests and other events, flying only in such 
events as were for speed, and of a distance not to 
exceed twenty kilometers, which was the course 
for the Gordon Bennett contest in 1909. 

It is hard enough for any one to map out a course 
of action and stick to it, particularly in the face 
of the desires of one's friends; but it is doubly 
hard for an aviator to stay on the ground waiting 
for just the right time to get into the air. It was 
particularly hard for me to keep out of many 
events at Eheims held from day to day, especially 
as there were many patriotic Americans there 
who would have liked to see America's only rep- 
resentative take part in everything on the pro- 
gramme. I was urged by many of these to go out 
and contest the Frenchmen for the rich prizes 
offered and it was hard to refuse to do this. 
These good friends did not realise the situation. 
America's chances could not be imperilled for the 
sake of gratifying one's curiosity, or national 
pride. On top of the urgings of my American 
friends to go out and fly and take chances of hav- 
ing a whole machine when the day for the Gordon 
Bennett should arrive, I was penalised for not 
starting in the speed race, the Prix de la Vitesse, 



THE EHEIMS MEET 69 

the penalty being one-twentieth of the time made 
when I should start in this event. However, I 
made a number of trial flights and ten official 
ones, during the meet, without mishap, except a 
sprained ankle. This was the result of running 
through growing grain at the time of landing and 
being thrown out of the machine. I was also 
fortunate in being the only aviator who took part 
in this first big meet to land at the hangar after 
each flight. 

During this period of waiting, and making ex- 
planations to enthusiastic Americans who could 
not understand why I did not fly all the time, my 
mechanician, "Tod" Shriver, 1 attracted a tre- 
mendous amount of attention from the throngs 
that visited the hangars because he worked in his 
shirt sleeves. They thought "Tod" picturesque 
because he did not wear the French workman's 

i Tod Shriver, or "Slim" as he was known to all American avi- 
ators because he was very tall and slender, went to Rheims as 
a mechanic before taking up flying himself. He was successful 
as an aviator and accompanied Captain Thomas Baldwin to the 
Orient in the spring and summer of 1911. This trip created 
great excitement among the Chinese, who had never seen the 
"foreign devils" fly before. Captain Baldwin tells a story of the 
crowd that witnessed the flights in Tokyo, Japan, which he de- 
scribes as numbering seven hundred thousand persons! In proof 
of this he states that advices received from Japan in the spring of 
1912 report that the crowd had not entirely dispersed even at that 
time! "Tod" Shriver flew in many places in the United States 
and in the winter of 1911 met his death in Porto Rico. He fell 
while flying at Ponce. His death was a shock to his many friends. 
{Note by AUGUSTUS POST.] 



70 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

blouse. Shriver used to say that if he were pic- 
turesque in shirt sleeves there were about fifty 
million perfectly good Americans across the At- 
lantic who formed probably the most picturesque 
crowd on earth. 

In the try-outs it became evident to the French- 
men that my aeroplane was very fast and it was 
conceded that the race for the Gordon Bennett 
Cup would lie between Bleriot and myself, barring 
accidents. After a carefully timed trial circuit of 
the course, which, much to my surprise, I made in 
a few seconds less than M. Bleriot 's time, and 
that, too, with my motor throttled down slightly, 
I gained more confidence. I removed the large 
gasoline tank from my machine and put on a 
smaller one in order to lessen the weight and the 
head-resistance. I then selected the best of my 
three propellers, which, by the way, were objects 
of curiosity to the French aviators, who were 
familiar only with the metal blades used on the 
Antoinette machine, and the Chauviere, which was 
being used by M. Bleriot. M. Chauviere was kind 
enough to make a propeller especially fitted to my 
aeroplane, notwithstanding the fact that a better 
propeller on my machine would lessen the chances 
of the French flyers for the cup. However, I 
decided later to use my own propeller, and did 
use it and won. 

August 29 dawned clear and hot. It was agreed 



THE EHEIMS MEET 71 

at a meeting of the Committee, at which all the 
contestants were present, that each contestant 
should be allowed to make one trial flight over the 
course and that he might choose his own time for 
making it, between the hours of ten o'clock in the 
morning and six o'clock in the evening. The 
other starters were Bleriot, Lefebre, and Latham 
for France, and Cockburn for England. As I 
have already stated, Bleriot was the favourite be- 
cause of his trip across the English channel and 
because of his records made in flights at various 
places prior to the Kheims meet. 

As conditions were apparently good, I decided 
to make my trial flight shortly after ten o'clock. 
The machine was brought out, the engine given a 
preliminary run, and at half past ten I was in 
the air. Everything had looked good from the 
ground, but after the first turn of the course I 
began to pitch violently. This was caused by the 
heat waves rising and falling as the cooler air 
rushed in. The up and down motion was not at 
all pleasant and I confess that I eased off on the 
throttle several times on the first circuit. I had 
not then become accustomed to the feeling an 
aviator gets when the machine takes a sudden 
drop. On the second round I got my nerve back 
and pulled the throttle wide open and kept it 
open. This accounts for the fact that the second 
lap was made in faster time than the first. The 



72 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

two circuits were made safely and I crossed the 
finish line in seven minutes, fifty-five seconds, a 
new record for the course. 

Now was my chance! I felt that the time to 
make the start for the Cup was then, in spite of 
the boiling air conditions, which I had found ex- 
isted all over the course and made flying difficult 
if not actually dangerous. We hurriedly refilled 
the gasoline tank, sent official notice to the judges, 
carefully tested the wiring of the machine by lift- 
ing it at the corners, spun the propeller, and the 
official trial was on. I climbed as high as I 
thought I might without protest, before crossing 
the starting line probably five hundred feet 
so that I might take advantage of a gradual de- 
scent throughout the race, and thus gain addi- 
tional speed. The sun was hot and the air rough, 
but I had resolved to keep the throttle wide open. 
I cut the corner as close as I dared and banked 
the machine high on the turns. I remember I 
caused great commotion among a big flock of 
birds which did not seem to be able to get out of 
the wash of my propeller. In front of the trib- 
unes the machine flew steadily, but when I got 
around on the back stretch, as we would call it, I 
found remarkable air conditions. There was no 
wind, but the air seemed fairly to boil. The ma- 
chine pitched considerably, and when I passed 
above the " graveyard," where so many machines 
had gone down and were smashed during the 



THE EHEIMS MEET 73 

previous days of the meet, the air seemed literally 
to drop from under me. It was so bad at one 
spot that I made up my mind that if I got over it 
safely I would avoid that particular spot there- 
after. 

Finally, however, I finished the twenty kilo- 
meters in safety and crossed the line in fifteen 
minutes, fifty seconds, having averaged forty-six 
and one-half miles an hour. When the time was 
announced there was great enthusiasm among the 
Americans present, and every one rushed over to 
offer congratulations. Some of them thought 
that I would surely be the winner, but of this I 
was by no means certain. I had great respect for 
Bleriot's ability, and besides, Latham and his 
Antoinette might be able to make better speed 
than they had thus far shown. In a contest of 
this sort it is never safe to cheer until all the 
returns are in. I confess that I felt a good deal 
like a prisoner awaiting the decision of a jury. 
I had done my best, and had got the limit of 
speed out of the machine; still I felt that if I 
could do it all over again I would be able to im- 
prove on the time. Meantime Cockburn, for Eng- 
land, had made a start but had come down and 
run into a haystack. He was only able to finish 
the course in twenty minutes, forty-seven and 
three-fifth seconds. This put him out of the con- 
test. 

Latham made his trial during the afternoon 



74 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

but his speed was five or six miles an hour slower 
than my record. The other contestants were fly- 
ing about thirty-five miles an hour, and were, 
therefore, not really serious factors in the race. 

It was all up to M. Bleriot. All day long he 
tinkered and tested, first with one machine and 
then another ; trying different propellers and mak- 
ing changes here and there. It was not until late 
in the afternoon that he brought out his big ma- 
chine, Number 22, equipped with an eight-cyl- 
inder water-cooled motor, mounted beneath the 
planes, and driving by chain a four-bladed pro- 
peller, geared to run at a speed somewhat less 
than that of the engine. He started off at what 
seemed to be a terrific burst of speed. It looked 
to me just then as if he must be going twice as 
fast as my machine had flown ; but it must be re- 
membered that I was very anxious to have him 
go slow. The fear that he was beating me was 
father to the belief. 

As soon as Bleriot was off Mr. Cortlandt Field 
Bishop and Mr. David Wolfe Bishop, his brother, 
took me in their automobile over to the judges' 
stand. Bleriot made the first lap in faster time 
than I had made it, and our hearts sank. Then 
and there I resolved that if we lost the cup I 
would build a faster aeroplane and come back 
next year to win it. 

Again Bleriot dashed past the stand and it 
seemed to me that he was going even faster than 





WINNING THE GORDON BENNET CONTEST IN FRANCE 

(A) Curtiss flying at Rheims, (B) The welcome home to Hamtnondsport 





Copyright, 1910, by Photo News Co. 

"A POSITION HIGHER THAN THE PRESIDENT'S" 
President Taft watching Curtiss fly, Harvard Meet, 1910 



THE EHEIMS MEET 75 

the first time. Great was my surprise, therefore, 
when, as he landed, there was no outburst of 
cheers from the great crowd. I had expected a 
scene of wild enthusiasm, but there was nothing 
of the sort. I sat in Mr. Bishop's automobile a 
short distance from the judges' stand, wondering 
why there was no shouting, when I was startled 
by a shout of joy from my friend, Mr. Bishop, 
who had gone over to the judges' stand. 

"You win! You win!" he cried, all excitement 
as he ran toward the automobile. "Bleriot is 
beaten by six seconds !" 

A few moments later, just at half past five 
o 'clock, the Stars and Stripes were slowly hoisted 
to the top of the flagpole and we stood uncovered 
while the flag went up. There was scarcely a 
response from the crowded grand stands ; no true 
Frenchman had the heart to cheer. A good, 
hearty cheer requires more than mere politeness. 
But every American there made enough noise for 
ten ordinary people, so that numbers really count- 
ed for very little in the deep feeling of satisfaction 
at the result of the first great contest in the his- 
tory of aviation. Mr. Andrew D. White, accom- 
panied by Mrs. Eoosevelt and Miss Ethel Roose- 
velt, came over to our car and congratulated me. 
Quentin Eoosevelt, who had been in a state of 
excitement throughout the day, declared it 
"bully," while his brother Archie wanted to be 
shown all about the working of the machine. M. 



76 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Bleriot himself, good sportsman that he is, was 
among the first to extend congratulations to Amer- 
ica and to me personally. 

There was a reason beyond the mere patriotism 
why the Americans felt so happy over the result; 
it meant that the next international race would 
be held in the United States, and that the best 
foreign machines would have to come across the 
ocean to make a try for the cup the following 
year. 

In commenting upon the result the Paris Edi- 
tion of the New York Herald said that the race 
had rehabilitated the biplane ; that while the light- 
ness and bird-like lines of the monoplane had 
appealed to the crowd as the ideal representation 
of artificial flight, "the American aviator proved 
that the biplane not only possessed qualities of 
carrying weight and undoubtedly of superior sta- 
bility, but that, if need be, it can develop speed 
equal to, if not superior to, its smaller rival." 

Offers of engagements to fly in Germany and 
Italy came pouring in. To accept these meant a 
good deal of money in prizes, for it had been 
proven that I had the fastest aeroplane in the 
world. I accepted some of them, as I had learned 
that the conditions for flying at the big meets in 
Europe were almost ideal and that there was 
a tremendous amount of interest everywhere, 
among all classes. A big meet was organized at 
Brescia, Italy, and I went there from Eheims. 



THE EHEIMS MEET 77 

Here I carried my first passenger, the celebrated 
Italian poet and author, Gabriele D'Annunzio. 
He was wildly enthusiastic over his experience, 
and upon being brought back to earth said with 
all the emotion of his people : " Until now I have 
never really lived! Life on earth is a creeping, 
crawling business. It is in the air that one feels 
the glory of being a man and of conquering the 
elements. There is the exquisite smoothness of 
motion and the joy of gliding through space It 
is wonderful! Can I not express it in poetry? I 
might try." 

And he did express it in poetry, a beautiful 
work published sometime later. 

After winning the Grand Prize at Brescia and 
taking a wonderful motor trip over the Alps with 
Mr. Bishop, I hurried home to America to look 
after my business affairs, about which I had not 
had time even to think during the Eheims and 
Brescia meets. 



NOTE BY AUGUSTUS POST 

Delegations of enthusiastic friends met Mr. 
Curtiss in New York, among them members of 
the Aero Club of America and other representa- 
tive organisations. There followed a series of 
luncheons and dinners which seemed without end. 
Among all these the luncheon given by the Aero 
Club of America at the Lawyers' Club was nota- 



78 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

ble because every one present showed such a warm 
interest in the success of American aeronautics, 
and such a firm determination not only to keep 
the trophy in this country, but to defend it the 
next year in an aviation meet that should be even 
greater than that with which Eheims had led the 
way. 

But the real celebration took place in the little 
village of Hammondsport, the place where Mr. 
Curtiss was born and reared, and where he knew 
every man, woman, and child. The men in the 
factory and all his other warm friends got to- 
gether and decided that there must be something- 
out of the ordinary when he got back to town. 
They planned a procession all the way from Bath 
to Hammondsport, a distance of ten miles, with 
fireworks along the route. But a heavy rain 
came on just in time to spoil the fireworks plan, 
so they engaged a special train and this passed 
through a glow of red fire all the way home from 
Bath. At the Hammondsport station there was 
a carriage to draw him up the hill to his home, 
and fifty men furnished the motive power. There 
were arches with " Welcome " in electric lights, 
banners, fireworks, and speeches. Through the 
pouring rain there was a continuous procession 
of his friends and acquaintances townspeople 
who had always given him their loyal support and 
the men from the shop who had made his success 
possible. 



THE EHEIMS MEET 79 

It was after eleven o'clock when the crowd dis- 
persed an almost unholy hour for Hammonds- 
port. AUGUSTUS POST. 



CHAPTER II 

HUDSON-FULTON" CELEBRATION FIRST AMERICAN IN- 
TERNATIONAL MEET, AT LOS ANGELES 

I WAS not permitted to remain long in Ham- 
mondsport, although there was much work 
for me to do there in the way of planning im- 
provements in the factory, as well as on my aero- 
plane, which had now come to be known through- 
out the world by reason of winning the Gordon 
Bennett Cup. There were tempting offers from 
all quarters to give exhibitions with the flying 
machine, which up to that time had been seen 
in but few places in this country. Some of these 
offers were accepted because I could not afford 
to reject them. Moreover, it required a great 
deal of money to run the shop, and there was no 
commercial demand for aeroplanes. They were, 
as yet, valuable only as "show machines," to see 
which the public was willing to pay goodly sums. 
For a long time preparations had been going 
on at New York City to celebrate the tri-cente- 
nary of the discovery of the Hudson river, and the 
centenary of the first steamboat trip on that 
stream by Fulton in the Clermont. It had been 

80 



HUDSON-FULTON CELEBEATION 81 

the idea of the originators of the Hudson-Fulton 
celebration an idea that was expressed in the 
tentative plans published long before the celebra- 
tion itself that the new conquest of the air 
should be recognised, in some way, at the same 
time. At first it was intended that some sort of 
airship should accompany the naval parade the 
entire length of the Hudson, with a replica of 
Hendrik Hudson's Half Moon leading the way, 
Kobert Fulton's old steamboat Clermont follow- 
ing, and the airship hovering above them thus 
furnishing a striking illustration of the wonder- 
ful advancement in the means of locomotion in a 
hundred years, and signalising the new science 
of air navigation. With this end in view the 
Celebration Committee engaged the Wright 
Brothers and myself to bring aeroplanes to New 
York, furnishing us with every facility on Gov- 
ernor's Island, in the Lower Bay, from which 
point all flights were to be made. 

But aerial navigation in the fall of 1909 was 
not such a sure and certain thing as all that. 
Much depended upon the wind and weather, and 
it was soon demonstrated that the best that could 
be hoped for at the time of the celebration would 
be flights made at such times as the wind would 
permit. Day after day the public waited anx- 
iously for flights to be made up the Hudson from 
Governor's Island, but day after day the wind 
blew up or down the Hudson in such blasts that 



82 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

it was not deemed safe to attempt a trip. For it 
must be remembered that there is scarcely a more 
difficult course anywhere in the country than over 
the Hudson river in the vicinity of New York. 
On both sides of the river, which is a swift-run- 
ning stream, rise lofty hills, and at some places 
precipitous cliffs called the Palisades. On the 
New York side are miles upon miles of lofty apart- 
ment houses along Biverside Drive. If the wind 
blows across the river, either from the east or 
west, dangerous currents and eddies suck down 
through the canon-like streets, or over the steep 
Palisades, making flying extremely hazardous. 
For this reason there has never, even up to this 
time (August, 1912), been any flying to speak of 
over the Hudson, and for these reasons, the great 
river will not become a popular flying course for 
aeroplanes until they are so constructed as to be 
able to defy the treacherous, puffy wind currents. 
The hydroaeroplane, however, may navigate the 
course with safety, as it is perfectly safe in one 
of these machines to fly within a few feet of the 
water where there is the least danger from con- 
trary air currents. 

So much was printed in the New York news- 
papers while we were waiting for propitious 
weather that the public was keyed up to expect 
great things from the aeroplanes far greater 
than the aeroplane could accomplish. Bulletins 
were posted by the newspapers from day to day, 



HUDSON-FULTON CELEBEATION 83 

informing the public that flights would surely be 
made " to-day" provided the wind abated. In 
the meantime interest was doubly stimulated by 
the announcement of a ten-thousand-dollar prize 
for the first air-flight over Fulton's course, from 
New York to Albany, or from Albany to New 
York. One of the paintings made at the time as 
an " advance notice," I remember, showed so 
many aerial dreadnaughts in the sky, passing 
down the river by the Palisades at the same time, 
that one was forced to wonder how all of them 
were going to find room to navigate. However, 
the atmosphere had cleared long before the actual 
flight was made down the Hudson, the following 
summer. 

In spite of the disappointment felt by the pub- 
lic at not seeing a fleet of aeroplanes sporting 
over the Hudson daily during the Hudson-Fulton 
celebration, there were many other things to di- 
vert the attention of New York's five millions and 
some few hundred thousands of visitors from this 
and other countries. The week of pomp and 
pageantry culminated in the most wonderful ma- 
rine and land parades ever staged in this country, 
and seldom, if ever, excelled in the Old World. 
The marine parade extended all the way up to 
Albany, and at every stopping place there was 
a repetition, on a smaller scale, of the scenes of 
enthusiasm and general holiday spirit that had 
prevailed in the Metropolis. New York City was 



84 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

decorated as no one had ever seen it decorated 
before, and the great fleet of over a hundred war- 
ships that swung at anchor in the Hudson were 
visited by thousands by day and were outlined 
in myriads of electric lights at night, disguising 
their ominous guns in soft shadow and giving 
them a peaceful and almost fairy-like appearance. 
Then there were the dirigible balloons to com- 
mand the attention of the crowds that thronged 
Riverside Drive waiting for the aeroplanes. 
They, too, were after the rich prize offered by 
the New York World. They furnished the only 
real contest during the Hudson-Fulton celebra- 
tion. There were two of them, one entered by 
the intrepid Captain Thomas Baldwin, and the 
other by a Mr. Tomlinson. These were housed 
in great tents raised within an enclosure at River- 
side Drive and One Hundred and Nineteenth 
street, behind a high fence, on which was painted 
"Hudson-Fulton Flights. " This was the center 
of interest for great crowds for days during the 
period of waiting. Captain Baldwin, always 
popular with the people wherever he goes, was 
the centre of interest with the crowds that stood 
around the sheds, watching the mild, blunt noses 
of the big dirigibles as they bobbed and swayed 
with the gusts that swept around Grant's Tomb, 
reminding one of the ceaseless weaving of a rest- 
less elephant. But the elements seemed to be as 
much against the dirigibles as against the aero- 



HUDSON-FULTON CELEBRATION 85 

planes. Tomlinson made a start, after a long 
wait, but came to grief almost at once, while Cap- 
tain Baldwin fared but little better. His trip ex- 
tended but a few miles up the river, when he was 
forced to come down, thus ending the chances of 
the dirigibles. 

The aeroplanes were scarcely more fortunate. 
October winds around New York are most unruly 
things, and at that particular period seemed 
worse than usual. "Weather-wise folk learned 
after awhile to look out at the flags on the high 
buildings; if they stood out straight from the 
staff, the people went about their business, know- 
ing there would be no flying that day. But every 
one kept an ear cocked for the firing of a big 
cannon on Governor's Island, the signal that a 
flight was about to be made. Even these were 
deceiving, for there were so many salutes being 
fired by the great fleets in the river and bay, that 
no one could tell when to give heed to gun sig- 
nals. So the crowds sat along Eiverside Drive, 
or depended upon the unhappy and over-worked 
policemen for word of the aeroplanes. Some peo- 
ple were disposed to hold the policemen person- 
ally responsible for the failure of the airships to 
fly. " You'd think, " said one of the blue-coated 
guardians on Eiverside Drive, "that I was 
keepin' 'em back, the way these people go at me. 
They blame me and not the wind!" 

The wind held out and the week of festivities 



86 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

ended ; still there had been no flying. I could not 
remain in New York any longer, as I had ac- 
cepted an engagement some time before to fly at 
St. Louis. I was obliged therefore, much to my 
chagrin, and the disappointment of the crowds, 
to leave the city without making a flight up the 
river, although I did make a short flight over 
Governor's Island. 

Mr. Wilbur Wright, however, remained in New 
York, and during the following week made a mag- 
nificent flight up the river from Governor's 
Island to Grant's Tomb and return, a distance 
of about twenty miles. This gave the larger part 
of New York's millions their first glimpse of an 
aeroplane in flight. 

At St. Louis we gave a very successful meet. 
There were flights by Captain Baldwin, Lincoln 
Beachey, and Eoy Knabenshue, in their dirigible 
balloons, and myself in my aeroplane. The 
weather conditions were favourable, and St. Louis 
turned out enthusiastic throngs to witness the 
exhibitions. 

The Pacific Coast, always progressive and quick 
to seize upon every innovation, no matter where 
it may be developed, had been clamoring for some 
time for an aviation meet. The enterprising 
citizens of Los Angeles got together and put up 
a large sum of money to bring out from Europe 
and the eastern part of the United States, a num- 
ber of representative aviators for an interna- 



THE LOS ANGELES MEET 87 

tional meet, the first ever given in this country. 
Louis Panlhan, one of the most celebrated French 
aviators, was brought over with a biplane and a 
monoplane, and there were a number of Ameri- 
can entries, including Charles F. "Willard and my- 
self. Los Angeles furnished the first opportunity 
for a real contest in this country between the 
French and American machines, and these con- 
tests aroused immense interest throughout the 
country. 

The importance of the Los Angeles meet to the 
aviation industry in this country was very great. 
The favourable climatic conditions gave opportuni- 
ties for every one to fly in all the events, and the 
wide publicity given to the achievements of Paul- 
han and others, especially to the new world 's al- 
titude record established by the French avia- 
tor, stimulated interest throughout the country. 
There was cross-country flying such as had not 
been seen in this country, brilliant exhibitions of 
altitude flying, and speed contests of the hair- 
raising variety. Sometimes it takes just such a 
public demonstration as the Los Angeles meet 
not only to spread the news of the general prog- 
ress of mechanical flight, but to show the builders 
of aeroplanes themselves just what their machines 
are capable of. 

It was at the Los Angeles meet, by the way, 
that Charles F. Willard coined that apt and pic- 
turesque phrase which soon was used the world 



88 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

over in describing air conditions. Willard had 
made a short flight and on coming down declared 
the air "was as full of holes as a Swiss cheese." 
This made a great hit with the newspapermen, 
who featured it, using it day after day in their 
stories until it went the rounds of the press of 
the world. There were special articles written 
on "holes in the air," and interviews of promi- 
nent aviators to determine how it feels to fall 
into "a hole in the air." 

The expression was more picturesque than ac- 
curate, for it is not necessary to explain, in this 
advanced stage of aviation, that there are no 
"holes" in the atmosphere. If there were a hole 
in the atmosphere, a clap of thunder would result, 
caused by the rushing in of the surrounding air 
to fill the vacuum. The only holes in the air are 
the streaks that follow a rifle bullet or a flash of 
lightning. The real cause of the conditions de- 
scribed by Willard, and which has since probably 
been responsible for the death of several well 
known aviators, is a swift, downward current of 
air, rushing in to fill a vacuum that follows a 
rising current from a heated area. The hot air 
rises and the cool air rushes down to take its 
place. An aeroplane striking one of these de- 
scending currents drops as if the entire atmos- 
pheric support had been suddenly removed, and 
if it be not high enough, may strike the ground 
with fatal results to the aviator. Every experi- 



THE LOS ANGELES MEET 89 

enced airman has met these conditions. They 
are especially noticeable over water, streaks of 
calm water showing where the up-currents are 
just starting, and waves or ripples where the 
down-currents strike the surface. 

The representative of the Aero Club of America 
at the Los Angeles meet was Mr. Cortlandt Field 
Bishop, of New York, who had been at Rheims the 
previous summer when I won the Gordon Bennett 
Cup and who had been of inestimable assistance to 
me at that time. Mr. Bishop had his oft-expressed 
wish to fly gratified at Los Angeles. He was 
taken up by Louis Paulhan several times, and 
Paulhan also took Mrs. Bishop for her first aerial 
ride. Great crowds came out at the Los Angeles 
meet, and they for the first time in the history of 
aviation in this country expected the aviator to 
fly and not to fall. Paulhan did some wonderful 
cross-country flying, and as a climax to the week 
of aerial wonders, he established a world's alti- 
tude record by ascending 4,165 feet. This was 
regarded as marvellous at that time. Since then 
the mark has been successively raised by Brook- 
ins, Hoxsey, Le Blanc, Beachey, Garros and 
others. Legagneux now (September, 1912) holds 
the record at 18,760 feet. 

Interest in aviation was keen following the Los 
Angeles meet and I decided to try for the New 
York World's ten-thousand-dollar prize, which 
was still open, for a flight down the Hudson from 



90 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Albany to New York City. Notwithstanding all 
the natural obstacles in the way of the accom- 
plishment of the undertaking, the conditions were 
so fair as to stops, time-limit, etc., and it was so 
obviously a prize offered to be won, that I con- 
sidered it worth a serious effort. 

I fully realised that the flight was much greater 
than anything I had yet attempted, and even more 
difficult than Bleriot's great flight across the 
English channel from France to England, news 
of which was still ringing throughout the 
world, and even greater than the projected flight 
from London to Manchester, England, and for 
which a prize of fifty thousand dollars had been 
offered. Although the course covered about the 
same distance as the London-Manchester route, 
there was not the difficulty of landing safely, over 
the English route. The Hudson flight meant one 
hundred and fifty-two miles over a broad, swift 
stream, flowing between high hills or rugged 
mountains the entire distance and with seldom a 
place to land ; it meant a fight against treacherous 
and varying wind currents rushing out unawares 
through clefts in the mountains, and possible mo- 
tor trouble that would land both machine and avi- 
ator in the water with not much chance of escape 
from drowning, even if uninjured in alighting. 



CHAPTER III 

FLIGHT DOWN THE HUDSON RIVER FROM ALBANY TO 
NEW YORK CITY 

TO fly from Albany to New York City was 
quite an undertaking in the summer of 1910. 
I realised that success would depend upon a de- 
pendable motor and a reliable aeroplane. In 
preparation for the task, therefore, I set the fac- 
tory at Hammondsport to work to build a new 
machine. While awaiting the completion of the 
machine, I took a trip up the Hudson from New 
York to Albany to look over the course and to se- 
lect a place about half way between the two cities 
where a landing for gasoline and oil might be 
made, should it become necessary. 

There are very few places for an aeroplane to 
land with safety around New York City. The 
official final landing place, stipulated in the condi- 
tions drawn up by the New York World, was to be 
Governor's Island, but I wanted to know of an- 
other place on the upper edge of the city where 
I might come down if it should prove necessary. 
I looked all over the upper end of Manhattan Is- 
land, and at last found a little meadow on a side 
hill just at the junction of the Hudson and Har- 

91 



92 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

lem rivers, at a place called Inwood. It was 
small and sloping, but had the advantage of being 
within the limits of New York City. It proved 
fortunate for me that I had selected this place, 
for it later served to a mighty good advantage. 

There was quite a party of us aboard the Hud- 
son river boat leaving New York City one day in 
May for the trip to Albany. As an illustration 
of the scepticism among the steamboat men, I 
remember that I approached an officer and asked 
several questions about the weather conditions 
on the river, and particularly as to the prevailing 
winds at that period of the year. Incidentally, I 
remarked that I was contemplating a trip up the 
river from New York to Albany in an aeroplane 
and wanted to collect all the reliable data possible 
on atmospheric conditions. This officer, whom I 
afterward learned was the first mate, answered 
all my questions courteously, but it was evident 
to all of us that he believed I was crazy. He took 
me to the captain of the big river boat and intro- 
duced me, saying: " Captain, this is Mr. Curtiss, 
the flying machine man; that's all I know," in a 
tone that clearly indicated that he disclaimed all 
responsibility as to anything I might do or say. 

The captain was very kind and courteous, ask- 
ing us to remain in the pilot house, where we 
might get a better view of the country along the 
way, and displaying the keenest interest in the 
project. He answered all our questions about 





Copyright, 1910, by The PirtorUl News Co. 

THE ALBANY-NEW YORK HUDSON FLIGHT 

(A) Start of the flight at Albany. Mrs. Curtiss and Augustus Post standing 
by Curtiss. (B) Over West Point Military Academy "The new kind of invader" 




Copyright, 1910, by The Pictorial News Co. 

THE HUDSON PLIGHT 
Over Storm King 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 93 

the winds along the Hudson and seemed to enter 
heartily in the spirit of the thing until we ap- 
proached the great bridge at Poughkeepsie and I 
began to deliberate whether it would be better to 
pass over or beneath it in the aeroplane. Then 
it seemed really to dawn upon the captain for the 
first time that I was actually going to fly down 
the river in an aeroplane. He apparently failed 
to grasp the situation, and thereafter his answers 
were vague and given without interest. It was 
"Oh, yes, I guess so," and similar doubtful ex- 
pressions, but when we finally left the boat at Al- 
bany he very kindly wished me a safe trip and 
promised to blow the whistle if I should pass his 
boat. 

Albany afforded a better starting place than 
New York, because there were convenient spots 
where one might land before getting well under 
way, should it become necessary. This was not 
true of the situation at New York City. As to 
the advantage of prevailing winds, it seemed to 
be in favour of Albany as the starting place, and 
I finally decided to have everything sent up to the 
capital city. On my way up I had stopped at 
Poughkeepsie, in order to select a landing place, 
as at least one stop was deemed necessary to take 
on gasoline and to look over the motor. We vis- 
ited the State Hospital for the Insane, which 
stands on the hill just above Poughkeepsie, and 
which seemed to be a good place to land. Dr. 



94 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Taylor, the superintendent, showed us about the 
grounds, and when told that I intended stopping 
there on my way down the river in a flying ma- 
chine, said with much cordiality: "Why, cer- 
tainly, Mr. Curtiss, come right in here; here's 
where all the flying machine inventors land. ' ' 

Notwithstanding the Doctor's cordial invita- 
tion to "drop in on him," we went to the other 
side of Poughkeepsie, and there found a fine open 
field at a place called Camelot. I looked over the 
ground carefully, locating the ditches and fur- 
rows, and selected the very best place to make a 
safe landing. Arrangements were made for a 
supply of gasoline, water, and oil to be brought 
to the field and held in readiness. It was fortu- 
nate that I looked over the Camelot field, for a 
few days later I landed within a few feet of the 
place I had selected as the most favoured spot 
near Poughkeepsie. This is but one thing that 
illustrates how the whole trip was outlined before 
the start was made, and how this plan was fol- 
lowed out according to arrangement. 

I shall always remember Albany as the starting 
place of my first long cross-country flight. My 
machine was brought over from Hammondsport 
and set up ; the Aero Club sent up its official rep- 
resentatives, Mr. Augustus Post and Mr. Jacob 
L. Ten Eyck, and the newspapers of New York 
City sent a horde of reporters. A special train 
was engaged to start from Albany as soon as I 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 95 

got under way, carrying the newspapermen and 
the Aero Club representatives, as well as several 
invited guests. It was the purpose to have this 
train keep even with me along the entire trip of 
one hundred and fifty- two miles, but as it turned 
out, it had some trouble in living up to the sched- 
ule. 

The aeroplane, christened the " Hudson Flier," 
was set up on Eensselaer Island. It was now 
up to the weather man to furnish conditions I 
considered suitable. This proved a hard task, 
and for three days I got up at daybreak, when 
there is normally the least wind, ready to make 
an early start. On these days the newspapermen 
and officials, not to mention crowds of curious 
spectators, rubbed the sleep out of their eyes be- 
fore the sun got up and went out to Eensselaer 
Island. But the wind was there ahead of us and 
it blew all day long. The weather bureau prom- 
ised repeatedly, "fair weather, with light winds," 
but couldn't live up to promises. I put in some 
of the time in going over every nut, bolt, and turn- 
buckle on the machine with shellac. Nothing was 
overlooked; everything was made secure. I had 
confidence in the machine. I knew I could land 
on the water if it became necessary, as I had af- 
fixed two light pontoons to the lower plane, one 
on either end, and a hydro-surface under the front 
wheel of the landing-gear. This would keep me 
afloat some time should I come down in the river. 



96 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

We bothered the life out of the weather ob- 
server at Albany, but he was always very kind 
and took pains to get weather reports from every 
point along the river. But the newspapermen 
lost faith; they were tired of the delay. 
I have always observed that newspapermen, 
who work at a high tension, cannot endure delay 
when there is a good piece of news in prospect. 
One of those at Albany during the wait, offered 
to lay odds with the others that I would not make 
a start. Others among the journalists believed I 
was looking for free advertising, and when an- 
other of the advertised starters for the World 
prize reached Albany he was greeted with: 
4 'Hello, old man, are you up here to get some free 
advertising, too?" One of the Poughkeepsie pa- 
pers printed an editorial about this time, in which 
it said: "Curtiss gives us a pain in the neck. 
All those who are waiting to see him go down the 
river are wasting their time." This was a fair 
sample of the lack of faith in the undertaking. 

The machine was the centre of interest at Al- 
bany during the wait. It seemed to hold a fas- 
cination for the crowds that came over to the is- 
land. One young fellow gazed at it so long and 
so intently that he finally fell over backwards 
insensible and it was some time before he was 
restored to consciousness. Then one of the news- 
papermen dashed a pail of water over him and at 
once sent his paper a column about it. They had 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 97 

to find something to write about and the country- 
man, the flying machine, and the fit made a com- 
bination good enough for almost any newspaper- 
man to weave an interesting yarn about. 

Our period of waiting almost ended on Saturday 
morning, May 30th. The "Hudson Flier" was 
brought out of its tent, groomed and fit ; the spe- 
cial train provided by the New York Times to fol- 
low me over the New York Central, stood ready, 
with steam up and the engineer holding a right- 
of-way order through to New York. The news- 
papermen, always on the job, and the guests were 
watching eagerly for the aeroplane to start and 
set out on its long and hazardous flight. 

Then something happened the wind came up. 
At first it did not seem to be more than a breeze, 
but it grew stronger and reports from down the 
river told of a strong wind blowing up the river. 
This would have meant a head gale all the way to 
New York, should I make a start then. Every- 
thing was called off for the day and we all went 
over and visited the State Capitol. The newspa- 
permen swallowed their disappointment and 
hoped for better things on the morrow. 

Sunday proved to be the day. The delay had 
got somewhat on my nerves and I had determined 
to make a start if there was half a chance. The 
morning was calm and bright a perfect summer 
day. News from down the river was all favour- 
able. I determined it was now or never. I sent 



98 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Mrs. Curtiss to the special train and informed the 
World representative and the Aero Club officials 
that I was ready to go. Shortly after eight 

'clock the motor was turned over and I was off ! 

It was plain sailing after I got up and away 
from Eensselaer Island. The air was calm and 

1 felt an immense sense of relief. The motor 
sounded like music and the machine handled per- 
fectly. I was soon over the river and when I 
looked down I could see deep down beneath the 
surface. This is one of the peculiar things about 
flying over the water. When high up a person 
is able to see farther beneath the surface. 

I kept a close lookout for the special train, 
which could not get under way as quickly as I had, 
and pretty soon I caught sight of it whirling along 
on the tracks next to the river bank. I veered 
over toward the train and flew along even with 
the locomotive for miles. I could see the people 
with their heads out the windows, some of them 
waving their hats or hands, while the ladies 
shook their handkerchiefs or veils frantically. It 
was no effort at all to keep up with the train, 
which was making fifty miles an hour. It was 
like a real race and I enjoyed the contest more 
than anything else during the flight. At times I 
would gain as the train swung around a short 
curve and thus lost ground, while I continued on 
in an air line. 

All along the river, wherever there was a vil- 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 99 

lage or town, and even along the roads and in 
boats on the river, I caught glimpses of crowds 
or groups of people with their faces turned sky- 
ward, their attitudes betokening the amazement 
which could not be read in their faces at that dis- 
tance. Boatmen on the river swung their caps in 
mute greeting, while now and then a river tug 
with a long line of scows in tow, sent greetings 
in a blast of white steam, indicating there was the 
sound of a whistle behind. But I heard nothing 
but the steady, even roar of the motor in perfect 
rhythm, and the whirr of the propeller. Not even 
the noise of the speeding special train only a few 
hundred feet below reached me, although I could 
see every turn of the great drive-wheels on the 
engine. 

On we sped, the train and the aeroplane, repre- 
senting a century of the history of transporta- 
tion, keeping abreast until Hudson had been past. 
Here the aeroplane began to gain, and as the 
train took a wide sweeping curve away from the 
bank of the river, I increased the lead perceptibly, 
and soon lost sight of the special. 

It seemed but a few minutes until the great 
bridge spanning the Hudson at Poughkeepsie, 
came into view. It was a welcome landmark, for 
I knew that I had covered more than half the jour- 
ney from Albany to New York, and that I must 
stop to replenish the gasoline. I might have gone 
on and taken a chance on having enough fuel, but 



100 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

this was not the time for taking chances. There 
was too much at stake. 

I steered straight for the centre of the Pough- 
keepsie bridge, and passed a hundred and fifty 
feet above it. The entire population of Pough- 
keepsie had turned out, apparently, and resem- 
bled swarms of busy ants, running here and there, 
waving their hats and hands. I kept close watch 
for the place where I had planned to turn off the 
river course and make a landing. A small pier 
jutting out into the river was the mark I had 
chosen beforehand and it soon came into view. I 
made a wide circle and turned inland, over a 
clump of trees, and landed on the spot I had 
chosen on my way up to Albany. But the gaso- 
line and oil which I had expected to find waiting 
for me, were not there. I saw no one for a time, 
but soon a number of men came running across 
the fields and a number of automobiles turned off 
the road and raced toward the aeroplane. I 
asked for some gasoline and an automobile hur- 
ried away to bring it. 

I could scarcely hear and there was a continual 
ringing in my ears. This was the effect of the 
roaring motor, and strange to say, this did not 
cease until the motor was started again. From 
that time on there was no disagreeable sensation. 
The special train reached the Camelot field 
shortly after I landed and soon the newspaper- 
men, the Aero Club officials, and the guests came 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 101 

climbing up the hill from the river, all eager to 
extend their congratulations. Henry Kleckler, 
acting as .my mechanic, who had come along on 
the special train, looked over the machine care- 
fully, testing every wire, testing the motor out, 
and taking every precaution to make the re- 
mainder of the journey as successful as the first 
half. The gasoline having arrived, and the tank 
being refilled, the special train got under way; 
once more I rose into the air, and the final lap of 
the journey was on. 

Out over the trees to the river I set my course, 
and when I was about midstream, turned south. 
At the start I climbed high above the river, and 
then dropped down close to the water. I wanted 
to feel out the air currents, believing that I would 
be more likely to find steady air conditions near 
the water. I was mistaken in this, however, and 
soon got up several hundred feet and maintained 
about an even altitude of from five hundred to 
seven hundred feet. Everything went along 
smoothly until I came within sight of West Point. 
Here the wind was nasty and shook me up con- 
siderably. Gusts shot out from the rifts between 
the mountains and made extremely rough riding. 
The worst spot was encountered between Storm 
King and Dunderberg, where the river is narrow 
and the mountains rise abruptly from the water's 
edge to more than a thousand feet on either side. 
Here I ran into a downward suction that dropped 



102 THE CTJBTISS AVIATION* BOOK 

me in what seemed an interminable fall straight 
down, but which as a matter of fact was not more 
than a hundred feet or perhaps less. It was one 
of Willard's famous "holes in the air." The at- 
mosphere seemed to tumble about like water 
rushing through a narrow gorge. At another 
point, a little farther along, and after I had 
dropped down close to the water, one blast tipped 
a wing dangerously high, and I almost touched 
the water. I thought for an instant that my trip 
was about to end, and made a quick mental calcu- 
lation as to the length of time it would take a 
boat to reach me after I should drop into the 
water. 

The danger passed as quickly as it had come, 
however, and the machine righted itself and kept 
on. Down by the Palisades we soared, rising 
above the steep cliff s that wall the stream on the 
west side. Whenever I could give my attention 
to things other than the machine, I kept watch 
for the special train. Now and then I caught 
glimpses of it whirling along the bank of the 
river, but for the greater part of the way I out- 
distanced it. 

Soon I caught sight of some of the sky-scrap- 
ers that make the sky-line of New York City the 
most wonderful in the world. First I saw the tall 
frame of the Metropolitan Tower, and then the 
lofty Singer building. These landmarks looked 
mighty good to me, for I knew that, given a few 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 103 

more minutes' time, I would finish the flight. Ap- 
proaching Spuyten Duyvil, just above the Harlem 
river, I looked at my oil gauge and discovered 
that the supply was almost exhausted. I dared 
not risk going on to Governor's Island, some fif- 
teen miles farther, for once past the Harlem river 
there would be no place to land short of the is- 
land. So I took a wide sweep across to the Jersey 
side of the river, circled around toward the New 
York side, and put in over the Harlem river, look- 
ing for the little meadow at Inwood which I had 
picked out as a possible landing place some two 
weeks before. 

There I landed on the sloping hillside, and 
went immediately to a telephone to call up the 
New York World. I told them I had landed 
within the city limits and was coming down the 
river to Governor's Island soon. 

I got more oil, some one among the crowd, that 
gathered as if by magic, turned my propeller, and 
I got away safely on the last leg of the flight. 
"While I had complied with the conditions govern- 
ing the flight by landing in the city limits, I 
wanted to go on to Governor's Island and give 
the people the chance to see the machine in flight. 

From the extreme northern limits of New York 
to Governor's Island, at the southern limits, was 
the most inspiring part of the trip. News of the 
approach of the aeroplane had spread throughout 
the city, and I could see crowds everywhere. 



104 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

New York can turn out a million people probably 
quicker than any other place on earth, and it cer- 
tainly looked as though half of the population 
was along Eiverside Drive or on top of the thou- 
sands of apartment houses that stretch for miles 
along the river. Every craft on the river turned 
on its siren and faint sounds of the clamour 
reached me even above the roar of my motor. It 
seemed but a moment until the Statue of Lib- 
erty came into view. I turned westward, circled 
the Lady with the Torch and alighted safely on 
the parade ground on Governor's Island. 

General Frederick Grant, commanding the De- 
partment of the East, was one of the first officers 
who came up to extend congratulations and to 
compliment me on the success of the undertak- 
ing. From that moment I had little chance for 
anything except the luncheons and dinners to 
which I was invited. First came the luncheon at 
the Astor House given by the New York World, 
and then the big banquet at the Hotel Astor, pre- 
sided over by Mayor Gaynor and attended by 
many prominent men interested in aviation. 
The speeches were all highly laudatory, of course, 
and there were many predictions by the orators 
that the Hudson river would become a highway 
for aerial craft, as it had for steam craft when 
Fulton first steered the old Clermont from New 
York to Albany. 

On the trip down from Albany I carried a letter 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 105 

from the mayor of that city to Mayor Gaynor, 
and delivered it in less time than it would have 
taken the fastest mail train. My actual flying 
time was two hours, fifty-one minutes, the dis- 
tance one hundred and fifty- two miles, and the 
average speed fifty-two miles an hour. 

From Albany to Poughkeepsie is eighty-seven 
miles, and by making this in a continuous flight I 
had, incidentally, won the Scientific American 
trophy for the third time. It now became my 
personal property, and its formal presentation 
was made at the annual dinner of the Aero Club 
of America for that year. 

NOTE BY AUGUSTUS POST 

The newspapers made much of Mr. Curtiss' 
flight, drawing comparisons between the Hudson 
river course and the flight made by Bleriot 
across the English channel, and the trip of Paul- 
han from London to Manchester, which he had 
just accomplished a flight of about the same dis- 
tance, for which he received fifty thousand dollars 
from the London Daily Mail. 

The New York Times offered a large prize for 
a flight from New York to Philadelphia and re- 
turn, immediately afterward, which Charles K. 
Hamilton won, and also offered a prize of twenty- 
five thousand dollars for a flight between New 
York and Chicago, which was never won. Mr. 
W. E. Hearst was also moved to offer fifty thou- 



106 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

sand dollars for a flight between New York and a 
point on the Pacific Coast, the offer standing open 
for one year. This flight was accomplished by 
Calbraith P. Eodgers, but was not concluded with- 
in the time limit. 

There was, naturally, an outburst of editorial 
comment from newspapers all over the United 
States, not only long and scholarly leaders, but 
brief, snappy paragraphs that make the press of 
this country an interesting record of public feel- 
ing and sentiment on all extraordinary achieve- 
ments. For instance, the St. Louis Times spoke 
of the passing of the new aerial menace over West 
Point where cadets were studying the history of 
military science along ancient lines, and the Chi- 
cago Inter-Ocean chuckled over how this latest 
achievement " would jar old Hendrik Hudson." 

The Newark News declared that "the Indian 
canoe, the Half mo on, the Clermont and the Cur- 
tiss biplane each represented a human achieve- 
ment that marked an epoch, " while the Provi- 
dence News believed that " valuable as was as- 
tronomer Halley's naming of a comet, Mr. Curtiss 
has accomplished something of more practical 
value to the world" and the York Gazette com- 
pared the flight down the Hudson Valley by the 
aeroplane, to the conquest of the North Pole. 
There were other interesting points of view 
taken by the press, the Birmingham News, for in- 
stance, expressing the opinion that the New York 




Copyright, lylu, by Tlie Pictiri:.l News Co. 

THE HUDSON PLIGHT 

(A) Stop at Poughkeepsie. (B) Finish, at Governor's Island 




THE EVOLUTION OP THE HYDRO 

(A) The first hydro In the world the "June Bug" on pontoons, Hammonds- 
port, November 5, 1908. (B) Developing Hydro at San Diego Curtlss and 
Ellyson In hydro of winter, 1911 ; dual control either of two military aviators 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 107 

World was extravagant, as "it had paid $10,- 
000.00 for Curtiss' ticket from Albany to New 
York, when it might have brought him down by 
train for $4.65." The Battle Creek Enquirer 
said that Mr. Curtiss ought to go into politics, 
for "a man who can soar as high, stay up as long, 
travel as far, light as safely, all on wind, would 
have the rest of them tied to the post." But the 
Savannah News intimated that nobody could 
blame Mr. Curtiss from flying away from the Al- 
bany Legislature at the rate of a mile a minute. 
The Birmingham Age-Herald declared that the 
way was paved for other and greater flights, even 
across the Atlantic ocean, and indeed, the ocean 
flight now seemed to the press a not far distant 
possibility. The Rochester Chronicle-Democrat 
argued that the bench and bar would now have an 
opportunity for the exercise of all their legal 
ability to settle the question "who owns the air!" 
But it was left to the Houston Post to break into 
poetry in the following outburst of local pride: 

"The wonder is that Curtiss did 
Not pass New York and onward whiz 
Southwest by south, half south, until 
He got where Houston, Texas, is." 

But perhaps the most characteristic comments 
were those like that of the New York Evening 
Mail: 

" In erery newspaper that you picked up yes- 



108 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

terday you read a thrilling account of the great 
achievement of Glenn H. Curtiss. The detailed 
description of his wonderful flight stirred every 
emotion in you. Chills ran up your spine and 
tears of joy came to your eyes as you read on and 
on of the courage of the man who propelled his 
airship at a speed of fifty-three miles an hour at 
a height of a thousand feet above the earth. He 
realised all of the time that a broken bolt or some 
little thing gone wrong might dash him to death." 
It is of course quite impossible to give even a 
small proportion of the bright comments that 
were made by the newspapers not only of this 
country, but even by the foreign press. The New 
York Times sent a special train to follow the 
flight, on which I rode as the representative of 
the Aero Club of America. Here is my report in 
the Times: 

"7:02 A. M. Mr. Curtiss started from Van Rensselaer Island, 
Albany. Jacob L. Ten Eyek official starter for Aero 
Club of America. 

7:03 Passed over the city limits of Albany. 

7:20 New Baltimore. 

7:26 Twenty-one miles. The Times special train caught up 
with aeroplane. 

7:27 Milton Hook brick yards. Wind still. Aeroplane fly- 
ing about 45 miles per hour. Passed lighthouse on west 
side of Hudson River. 

7:32 Stockport. Twenty- four miles. 

7:35 Hudson. Twenty-nine miles. Aeroplane flying high. 
Catskill Mountain houses could be seen in the distance. 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 109 

Machine flying steady, water was calm, small ripples 

along the surface. 
7:36 Thirty miles. The Times special train passed through 

tunnel parallel with 'plane. 
7 'A0y 2 Tower 81, New York Central Railroad. Greensdale 

ferry. 

7:41 Catskill on west shore of Hudson River. Flying high. 
7:44% Water trough in centre of track. Train equal with 

'plane. Linlithgo Station. 

7:46 Germantown steamer dock. Aeroplane flying well. 
7:48 Passed old steamboat on west side of the river. Ger- 
mantown Station. Aeroplane pitched when foot oil pump 

was used. Slight ripples on the water. 

7 :51 The Times special train running parallel with aeroplane. 
7:53 Tivoli. Forty-four miles. Aeroplane 1,000 feet high. 

Wind slightly from the west. 
7:58 Barrytown. Forty-nine miles. Aeroplane about 800 

feet high, descending a little lower until about 400 feet 

high. 
8:03 Kingston. Brick yards on west shore of river. Mr. 

Curtiss is flying very near The Times special train, within 

perhaps 100 yards. 
8:04 Aeroplane turns toward west. Heads a little more 

into the wind and crosses to the west side of the river at 

high speed. 
8:05 Private yacht dock on east side of river. Aeroplane 

flying high again. 
8:06 Rhineclifl: Ferry. Fifty-four miles. Aeroplane has 

been flying one hour and four minutes. Seems to be 

flying well. 

8 :08 Passing Tower 67, New York Central Railroad. 
8:08% The Times special train passed through tunnel. Mr. 

Curtiss goes back to west side of river, flying over ice- 
houses. 

8:11 Passed lighthouse in middle of river. The aeroplane 
seems to be rising and falling slowly on the varying cur- 



110 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

rents of air. River is very wide at this point. There are 
large stone crushers on the west shore, and a large stone 
building of an institution on the bank of the river. 

8:12 Staatsburg. Sixty miles. 

8 :16 Aeroplane now is passing over a large white house, some 
private residence on the west shore of the river. Aero- 
plane is flying past freight train on the West Shore Rail- 
road. 

8 :18 Hyde Park Station. Sixty-four miles. The Times spe- 

cial train passing water trough in centre of railway track. 
Passing Insane Asylum at Poughkeepsie. 

8:20 Passing upper portion of Poughkeepsie. 'Plane over 
river. 

8:24 Passing Poughkeepsie Bridge. Aeroplane about 200 
feet above it. 

8:25V The Times special train goes through Poughkeepsie 
Station. 

8:30 The Times special train arrives at Gill's Mill Dock, 
opposite landing place of Mr. Curtiss. Aeroplane landed 
according to Mr. Curtiss's watch on his machine at 8:26. 
I left special train and went to the field where Mr. Cur- 
tiss had landed, arriving a few minutes later. The tanks 
of the machine were filled with eight gallons of gasoline 
and one gallon and a half of oil. The machine was exam- 
ined carefully and found to be in good order, one wire 
being stayed to prevent vibration. George Collingwood 
took The Times special train party to New Hamburg 
Station. 

9:26 Mr. Curtiss started for New York from field on prop- 
erty of Mr. Gill. 

9 :31 Camelot. 

10:02 West Point. Aeroplane passed over Constitution Is- 
land at an altitude of about 400 feet above the land. 

10 :06 Manitou. 



10:15 Ossining. Aeroplane flying on west side of the river. 



THE HUDSON FLIGHT 111 

10:25 Dobbs Ferry. 

10:30 Yonkers. Aeroplane flying about level with top of 

Palisades. 
10:35 Landed 214th Street. Inwood. After passing down 

river to Dyckman Street and returning to Spuyten Duyvil 

and passing over drawbridge the aeroplane landed upon 

the property of the Isham estate. 
11:42 Mr. Curtiss left his landing place, flying again over 

the drawbridge, out over the Hudson River, turned south. 
12:00 M. Passed New York City and landed at Governor's 

Island at noon. 

"Mr. Curtiss also entered for the Scientific American trophy 
and the first flight from Albany to the landing place at Pough- 
keepsie, the exact distance of which is to be determined later, 
will count as a record for this event, and if not exceeded in 
the year will stand as Mr. Curtiss's trial for this trophy. 

"The figures as finally corrected show that Mr. Curtiss was 
in the air on the first leg of his flight from Albany to the Gill 
farm near Poughkeepsie 1 hour and 24 minutes ; from the Gill 
farm to the Isham estate at 214th Street 1 hour and nine min- 
utes, and from 214th Street to Governor's Island 18 minutes, 
making a total flying time for the 150 miles of 2 hours and 51 
minutes. 

''Figured on the basis of 150 miles for the entire flight, Mr. 
Curtiss is shown to have maintained an average speed of 52.63 
miles per hour." A. P. 



CHAPTEE IV 

THE BEGINNING OF THE HYDROAEROPLANE 

THE Albany Flight was a great stimulus 
to aeronautics in this country. Prizes were 
at once offered in several different places by sev- 
eral different newspapers, and a great many 
cities wanted to have public flights made and par- 
ticularly wanted flights to be made over water. 

At Atlantic City I flew over the ocean, making 
a record for fifty miles over water on a measured 
course. It was here at the same time that Wal- 
ter Brookins made a world's altitude record of 
over six thousand feet in a standard Wright ma- 
chine. Later I flew from Cleveland to Cedar 
Point, near Sandusky, Ohio, a distance of sixty 
miles over the waters of Lake Erie, and returned 
next day in a rain storm. 

After making flights in Pittsburgh, Pa., I 
thought that a successful meet could be held in 
New York City, so I arranged to have all of our 
forces gathered together at Sheepshead Bay race 
track, near Brighton Beach, N. Y., and during the 
week of August 26, 1910, we had an aeroplane 
meet at which Messrs. J. C. Mars, Charles F. Wil- 
lard, Eugene B. Ely, J. A. D. McCurdy, and Au- 

112 



BEGINNING THE HYDRO 113 

gustus Post made flights and this meet was so 
successful that it was continued for a second 
week. Mr. Ely flew to Brighton Beach and took 
dinner and then flew back. Mr. Mars flew out 
over the Lower Bay and we had all five of the 
machines in the air at one time on several occa- 
sions a record for New York at that time. It 
was here that Mr. Post made a Bronco Busting 
Flight over the hurdles at the Sheepshead Bay 
track, landing safely after putting his machine 
through all manner of thrilling manoeuvres. 

The Harvard Aeronautical Society had ar- 
ranged a meet at Boston, Mass., which followed 
directly after this one, and Claude Grahame- 
White, the famous English aviator, who was later 
to win the Gordon Bennett cup at Belmont Park, 
came over from England, bringing his fast Bler- 
iot monoplane with him. A special race was ar- 
ranged between Mr. White in his Bleriot and my 
racing biplane. The meet was a great success, 
and but a very small margin separated Mr. 
White's Bleriot and my machine when we tried 
out our best speeds. 

Then came a meet at Chicago, 1 after which it 

i NOTE BY AUGUSTUS POST 

While flying in the Chicago meet we had four machines in 
the air at once. I was a novice at flying then but entered the 
air while the other fellows were flying around. 

Circling the track I was just passing the grand stand when 
Willard swooped down in front of me having passed right over 
my head. 



114 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

was arranged that three machines should start to 
fly from Chicago to New York for the New York 
Times' prize of $25,000. A team was made up 
and Mr. Ely was chosen to make the attempt to 
fly to New York. This was a very ambitious un- 
dertaking for this period in the history of avia- 
tion in America, for the longest flight that up to 
this time had been made in this country was be- 
tween New York and Philadelphia, one hundred 
and eighty miles ; while the distance between Chi- 
cago and New York was fully one thousand miles 
and landings were very difficult to accomplish in 
the broken country along the way. Mr. Ely 
made a good attempt, but there was not sufficient 
time to complete the trip as flights had already 
been arranged at Cleveland, Ohio, and in order to 
go there, this attempt was given up. 

The Gordon Bennett Aviation Cup race was the 

I clung on to the steering post and held the wheel as firmly 
as I could while to my great consternation the machine rocked 
and swayed fearfully in the back draft from Willard's propeller. 
He kept doing the Dutch Roll and the Coney Island Dip right 
in front of me, which made it all the worse, as the wash of the 
propeller wake would strike above and below my machine as he 
pitched up and down in front of me. I stood it as best I could, 
hardly daring to breathe but holding my course and balancing 
with all my might, until Willard turned off, and then after a 
bit I made a good landing. When Willard came down he rushed 
up to me and grabbed me by the hand and said, "Oh, Post! will 
you ever forgive me for that? I ought to have known better 
than to back-wash you but you know I thought you were Ely, 
and I wanted to scare him!" A. P. 



BEGINNING THE HYDRO 115 

next thing to arouse the interest of patriotic 
Americans and the Aero Club of America had 
been busy with arrangements for a big meet to 
be held at Belmont Park, near New York. This 
was the largest undertaking that the club had up 
to this time attempted and they taxed every pos- 
sible resource, with the splendid result of secur- 
ing all the foremost fliers of Europe, as well as of 
America, to participate. 

I had built a machine for the trials which I 
thought would be very fast and had constructed it 
as a type of monoplane in order to cut down the 
head resistance to the very least possible point. 
America was represented by Anthony Drexel, Jr., 
in a Bleriot; by the Wright Brothers, who had 
constructed a racing machine by putting a pow- 
erful motor in a small machine which was about 
one-half the size of their regular model, and by 
Mr. Charles K. Hamilton, who flew a Curtiss type 
machine, but with a large power motor of an- 
other make. Mr. Grahame- White won the race 
in his Bleriot, although Mr. Alfred Leblanc, rep- 
resenting France, made remarkable time, but on 
the last lap ran into a telegraph pole on one of 
the turns and smashed his machine and had a 
most miraculous escape from being killed. 

I did not try out my monoplane, although my 
regular type was the speediest standard biplane 
at the meet and was very well handled by Ely, 



116 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Mars, Willard, and McCurdy who flew in the con- 
tests. I had given up public flying in contests at 
this time. 

A new line of thought or to express it more 
accurately, the following out of a very old one 
was taking my interest and a great part of my 
time. The experiments I had in mind involved 
the problem of flying from the water and alight- 
ing on the water. 

The season of 1910 was now far advanced 
and it was time to make plans for the winter. 
Flying meets were to be held at Los Angeles 
again, and also at San Francisco, and California 
seemed the best place to go, for the weather there 
would be most favourable not only for winter fly- 
ing, but also for carrying on the experiments 
which I had in mind. Meantime, when it seemed 
as if all the paths were open to the aeroplane over 
the land, and it was only a question of develop- 
ment, not of pioneering, it was suggested to me 
by the New York World to launch an aeroplane 
from the deck of a ship at sea and have it fly back 
to shore carrying messages. 

The Hamburg American Steamship Company 
offered their ocean liner Pennsylvania for this 
test, and I sent a standard Curtiss biplane to be 
operated by J. A. D. McCurdy. The ship was 
fitted with a large platform, erected on the stern, 
a platform sloping downward, and wide enough 
to allow an aeroplane set up on it to run down 



BEGINNING THE HYDEO 117 

so that it could gather headway for its flight. 
The plan was to take McCurdy and the aeroplane 
fifty miles out to sea on the outward voyage from 
New York, and then launch them from the plat- 
form. 

A mishap at the last moment upset all the well- 
laid plans. In trying out the motor just as the 
Pennsylvania was about to leave her dock at Ho- 
boken, an oil can, carelessly left on one of the 
planes by a mechanic, was knocked off and fell 
into the whirling propeller. The result was a 
broken propeller, and as the ship could not delay 
its sailing long enough for us to get another, the 
attempt was abandoned. 

In the meantime, however, the Navy became in- 
terested in the sea experiments and offered the 
armoured cruiser Birmingham, then at Hampton 
Eoads, to be fitted up with a similar platform for 
launching an aeroplane. This was accepted and 
Eugene Ely, who was flying in a meet at Balti- 
more and already in the vicinity of Norfolk, took 
his Curtiss biplane over to the Birmingham for 
the test, fired with enthusiasm by McCurdy 's 
attempt. On November 14 the Birmingham, 
equipped with a platform for starting the aero- 
plane, awaited good weather for the flight. The 
good weather did not come and after waiting im- 
patiently on board for some time, Ely determined 
to risk a start, even though there was a strong 
wind coming off shore carrying a heavy mist that 



118 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

made it almost impossible to see more than half 
a mile. The ship was at anchor, but starting tip 
his motor he flew off with the greatest ease, 
slightly touching the water with the wheels of his 
machine, but quickly rising and flying straight to 
shore, where he landed without difficulty. 

This flight attracted world-wide attention, es- 
pecially among the officers of the navies of the 
world. It was the first demonstration of the 
claims of the aeronautical enthusiasts of the navy 
that an aeroplane could be made that would be 
adaptable to the uses of the service, and it ap- 
peared to substantiate some of the things claimed 
for it. 

When I found that business would bring me to 
California during the winter, and probably would 
keep me there for several months, I decided to 
grasp the opportunity to do the development work 
I had long wanted to do, and at the same time to 
request the honour of instructing representative 
officers of the Army and Navy in the operation of 
the aeroplane. I believed the time had arrived 
when the Government would be interested in any 
phase of aviation that promised to increase the 
usefulness of the aeroplane for military service. 

So, on November 29, 1910, 1 sent letters to both 
Secretary Dickinson of the "War Department and 
to Secretary Meyer of the Navy Department, in- 
viting them to send one or more officers of their 
respective departments to Southern California, 



BEGINNING THE HYDRO 119 

where I would undertake to instruct them in avia- 
tion. I made no conditions. I asked for and re- 
ceived no remuneration whatsoever for this serv- 
ice. I consider it an honour to be able to 
tender my services in this connection. Other 
governments had already organised their aero- 
nautical military branches and instructed men to 
fly, and it seemed to me that our own Government 
would do likewise were the opportunity afforded 
the officers to familiarise themselves with the 
aeroplane. 

The invitations to the War and Navy Depart- 
ments were written just prior to my departure 
for the Pacific Coast, and three weeks later I was 
notified that the Secretary of the Navy had ac- 
cepted, and that they would detail officers for in- 
struction. 

It began to look, even to the doubters, as if an 
aeroplane could be made adaptable to the uses 
of the Navy, as the aeronautic enthusiasts of the 
service had claimed. The experiment begun 
would have to be completed, however, by flying 
from shore to the vessel, and for this opportunity 
we were eager. The chance came when we were 
all at San Francisco and another Pennsylvania, 
this time the big armoured cruiser, was in the 
bay. Rear Admiral Thomas, and Captain Pond, 
in command of the Pennsylvania, readily con- 
sented to assist in these further experiments. 
The Pennsylvania went to Mare Island to be out- 



120 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

fitted, Ely and I going there to tell the Navy offi- 
cials at the station just what would be required 
for such a hazardous test. 

The platform was like that built on the Bir- 
mingham, but in the case of a flight to, instead of 
from, a ship the serious problem is to land the 
aeroplane on the deck and to stop it quickly be- 
fore it runs into the masts of the ship, or other 
obstructions. The platform was built over the 
quarterdeck, about one hundred and twenty-five 
feet long by thirty feet wide, with a slope toward 
the stern of some twelve feet. Across this run- 
way we stretched ropes every few feet with a 
sand bag on each end. These ropes were raised 
high enough so they could catch in grab-hooks 
which we placed under the main centrepiece of the 
aeroplane, so that catching in the ropes the heavy 
sand bags attached would drag until they brought 
the machine to a stop. 

To protect the aviator and to catch him in case 
he should be pitched out of his seat in landing, 
heavy awnings were stretched on either side of 
the runway and at the upper end of it. 

When all arrangements had been completed, 
and only favourable weather was needed to carry 
out the experiment, I was obliged to leave for San 
Diego, and, therefore, was unable to witness the 
flight. I regarded the thing as most difficult of 
accomplishment. Of course, I had every faith in 
Ely as an aviator, and knew that he would arrive 



f 









TWO FAMOUS MILITARY TEST FLIGHTS 

(A) Curt Iss and hydro hoisted on U. S. S. "Pennsylvania," at San Diego. 
/ (B) Ely leaving "Pennsylvania," San Francisco harbor 



BEGINNING THE HYDEO 121 

at the ship without trouble, but I must confess 
that I had misgivings about his being able to come 
down on a platform but four feet wider than the 
width of the planes of the aeroplane, and to bring 
it to a stop within the hundred feet available for 
the run. 

Ely rose from the Presidio parade grounds, 
flew out over the bay, hovered above the ship for 
an instant, and then swooped down, cutting off 
his power and running lightly up the platform, 
when the drag of the sand bags brought him to a 
stop exactly in the centre, probably one of the 
greatest feats in accurate landing ever performed 
by an aviator. As I have said, the platform was 
only four feet wider than the planes of the Cur- 
tiss biplane that Ely used, yet the photograph 
taken from the fighting top of the ship shows the 1 
machine touching the platform squarely in the 
centre. When one stops to think that the aero- 
plane was travelling about forty miles an hour 
when it touched the deck and was brought to a 
stop within a hundred feet, the remarkable pre- 
cision of the aviator will be appreciated. 

Not only was there not the least mishap to him- 
self or to the machine in landing, but as soon as 
he had received a few of the many excited con- 
gratulations awaiting him, he started off again 
and flew back the ten miles to the camp of the 
30th Infantry on the Aviation Field, where wild 
cheers greeted the man and the machine that had 



122 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

for the first time linked the Army and the Navy. 
For this is what, in the wars of the future, or 
even in the preservation of the future 's peace, the 
aeroplane is certainly going to do, joining as noth- 
ing else can the two branches of the service. 

I don't think there has ever been so remark- 
able a landing made with an aeroplane as Ely's, 
and probably never so much store put by the mere 
act of coming down in the right place. A few 
feet either way, a sudden puff of wind to lift the 
aeroplane when it should descend, or any one of 
a dozen other things, might have spelled disaster 
for the whole undertaking, deprived the daring 
aviator of a well earned success, and the world 
of a remarkable spectacular demonstration of 
practical aviation. 

On the day of the test I was in San Diego and 
awaited news from San Francisco with a good 
deal of impatience. When at last the Associated 
Press bulletin announced that Ely had landed 
without mishap I first felt a great relief that 
there had been no accident to mar the success of 
the thing, and then a sense of elation that we had 
taken another long step in the advancement of 
aviation. 

Early in January I went to Southern Califor- 
nia to establish an experimental station, and at 
the same time to instruct the officers of the Army 
and Navy whom I had invited the War and Navy 
Departments to assign for that purpose. A part 



BEGINNING THE HYDBO 123 

of our experiments were along the line of a new 
i t amphibious ' ' machine that had been on my mind 
ever since my first experiments in Hammonds- 
port. 

I believed that with the proper equipment for 
floating and attaining a high speed on the water, 
an aeroplane could be made to rise as easily as 
it could from the land. 1 I had carried these ex- 
periments just far enough in Hammondsport to 
convince me that the thing was feasible, when I was 
obliged to discontinue them to take up other busi- 
ness. I knew it would be safer to land on the 
water than on land with the proper appliances, 
and that it would be easier to find a suitable land- 
ing place on water, for the reason that it always 

i NOTE BY AUGUSTUS POST 

An interesting story is told of how the hydroaeroplane came 
to be invented. 

During the period when he was planning a new series of ex- 
periments, Mr. Curtiss, accompanied by Mrs. Curtiss, attended 
a New York theatre in which there was being presented a play 
much talked about just then. The curtain went up on the first 
act, and the noted aviator was apparently enjoying the show 
when, just as the scene was developing one of its most inter- 
esting climaxes, he turned to Mrs. Curtiss and said: "I've got 
it." On the theatre program he had sketched what ultimately 
became the design of the hydroaeroplane. 

This is like a time when Mr. Curtiss was standing one day 
by the side of one of his motorcycles talking with a customer. 
He kept turning one of the grips of the handle-bar with his 
fingers while talking and after finishing the conversation went 
into his office and developed the idea of a handle-control which 
had come to him while apparently absorbed in conversation. 
A. P. 



124 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

affords an open space, while it is often difficult to 
pick a landing place on the land. So, when I 
made preparations for my flight from Albany to 
New York City, I fitted pontoons beneath the 
chassis of my machine and a hydro-snrf ace under 
the front wheel. I wanted to be prepared for 
alighting on the water should anything go amiss. 
As a matter of fact, the river course was the only 
feasible one for this flight, as there were moun- 
tains and hills for almost the entire distance. 

It was while on that trip that I decided to build 
an aeroplane that would be available for starting 
or landing on the water. I don't know that I had 
the idea of its military value when I first planned 
it; but it came to me later that such a machine 
would be of great service should the Navy adopt 
the aeroplane as a part of its equipment. I 
thought the next step from pontoons, to float an 
aeroplane safely on the water, would be a perma- 
nent boat so shaped that it could get up speed 
enough so the whole machine could rise clear of 
the water and fly in the air. 

It was important to find a location where it 
would be possible to work along the lines I had 
mapped out a place where I might be free from 
the pressing calls of business and the hampering 
influence of uncertain climatic conditions. In 
short I wanted a place with the best climate to 
be found in this country, with a field large enough 
and level enough for practice land flights by be- 



BEGINNING THE HYDBO 125 

ginners, and with a convenient body of smooth 
water for experiments with a machine that would 
start from or land upon water. 

Above all, I wanted a place not easy of access 
to the curious crowds that gather wherever there 
is anything novel to be attempted; for a flying 
machine never loses its attraction to the curious. 
Mankind has been looking for it ever since the 
beginning of the world, and now that it is actually 
here he can't get away from it, once it is in sight. 
A machine that has actually carried a man 
through the air takes on a sort of individuality 
all its own that acts as a magnet for the inquiring 
mind. Once people have really seen an aero- 
plane fly, they want to know what makes it fly 
and to come into personal contact with the ma- 
chine and the man who operates it. 

San Diego was brought to my attention as af- 
fording every advantage for experimental work 
in aviation. A study of the weather bureau rec- 
ords here showed a minimum of wind and a max- 
imum of sunshine the year round. I visited that 
city in January, 1911, and after a thorough inspec- 
tion of the grounds offered as an aviation field, 
decided to make that city the headquarters for 
the winter and to carry on the experimental and 
instructional work there. 

North Island, lying in San Diego Bay, a mile 
across from the city, was turned over to me by 
its owners, the Spreckels Company. It is a flat, 



126 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

sandy island, about four miles long and two miles 
wide, with a number of good fields for land flights. 
The beaches on both the ocean and bay sides are 
good, affording level stretches for starting or 
landing an aeroplane. Besides, the beaches were 
necessary to the water experiments I wished to 
make. North Island is uninhabited except by 
hundreds of jack rabbits, cottontails, snipe, and 
quail. It joins Coronado Island by a narrow 
sand spit on the south side, which is often washed 
by the high tides. Otherwise the two islands 
are separated by a strip of shallow water a mile 
long and a couple of hundred yards wide, called 
Spanish Bight. Thus the island on which we 
were to do our experimenting and training was ac- 
cessible only by boat and it was a comparatively 
easy matter to exclude the curious visitor when- 
ever we desired to do so. There was no particu- 
lar reason for excluding the public other than the 
desire to work unhampered by crowds, which is 
always a distracting influence. 

In the meantime Lieutenant Theodore GL Elly- 
son of the submarine service, then stationed at 
Newport News, Virginia, had been detailed by the 
Navy Department to report to me in California 
for instruction in aviation. He had joined me in 
Los Angeles, where, though there are all the 
climatic requirements, and good fields for prac- 
tice flights, the ideal body of smooth water for 
experiments on that element was lacking. The 



BEGINNING THE HYDRO 127 

War Department responded later, instructing 
General Bliss, commanding the Department of 
California at San Francisco, to detail as many 
officers as could be spared to go to San Diego for 
instruction in the art of flying. 

There was much eagerness among the officers 
of the Department of California and I was in- 
formed that some thirty applications were made 
for the detail. Lieutenant (now Captain) Paul 
W. Beck, of the Signal Corps, located at the Pre- 
sidio, San Francisco, and Lieutenant John C. 
Walker, Jr., of the 8th Infantry, Monterey, Cal., 
were named at once, and later Lieutenant C. E. 
M. Kelly, 30th Infantry, San Francisco, was 
added to the Army's representation. This made 
a list of four officers, three from the Army and 
one from the Navy, and with these I began work. 
In February, however, the Navy Department des- 
ignated Ensign Charles Pousland of the destroyer 
Preble, at San Diego, to join Lieutenant Ellyson 
as a Navy pupil in aviation. 

There are a dozen good landing or starting 
fields on North Island, but we chose the one on 
the south side, which gave us easy access to the 
smooth shallow water of Spanish Bight. A field 
was cleared of weeds and sagebrush, half a mile 
long by three or four hundred yards wide. Sheds 
to house the machines were built by the Aero 
Club of San Diego, and landings put in for the 
small boats that carried us to and from the city. 



128 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

The Spreckels Company gave us every assistance 
in fitting the place up, and the people of San Di- 
ego, anxious to make the island the permanent 
home of an aviation experimental station and 
school, were prompt to lend a hand and to im- 
press upon us the climatic advantages of their 
city. 

I have asked Lieutenant Ellyson to write his 
own story of the work on North Island, and it is 
to be found in another part of this book. 



CHAPTEE V 

DEVELOPING THE HYDROAEROPLANE AT SAN DIEGO 
THE HYDRO OF THE SUMMER OF 1912 

JANUAEY had nearly passed before the first 
machine was ready. Although this proved 
unsuccessful, I was not discouraged and learned 
a good deal about what sort of a float was neces- 
sary to support the aeroplane and how it acted 
when under way over the water. Nearly every 
day for over two weeks we dragged the machine 
down to the edge of the water, launched it on the 
smooth surface of San Diego Bay, and drew it 
out again after testing out some new arrangement 
of floats and surfaces. We kept it in a hangar, 
or shed, on the beach, and there we would sit and 
study and change and plan how to improve the 
float. 

We were in the water almost all day long; no 
thought was given to wet clothing and cold feet. 
We virtually lived in our bathing suits. The 
warm climate aided us, but there were some chilly 
days. Discomfort and failure did not deter the 
Army and Navy officers, who watched and worked 
like beavers, half in and half out of the water. 

On the 26th of January the first success came. 
That day the aeroplane first rose from the water 

129 



130 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

and succeeded in alighting gently and without ac- 
cident after the flight. A page was added to 
aviation history, which extended its domain and 
opened the lakes, rivers, and seas to the hitherto 
land-locked flying machine. It was no more a land 
bird, but a water fowl as well. 

The machine was crude, and there remained 
many things to be improved, but the principle was 
correct. We kept adjusting the equipment, add- 
ing things and taking them off again to make some 
improvement; perhaps the float was too heavy, 
or leaked, or the spray would fly up and chips 
would be knocked out of the whirling propeller, 
which the drops of water would strike like shot 
out of a gun. The least projection on the floats 
would send up spray while travelling at such high 
speed as was made through the water. The bal- 
ance of the machine was as troublesome as any- 
thing, because the push of the propeller would 
give it a tendency to dive if the floats were not 
properly adjusted. 

When we brought the machine out on the 26th 
day of January I felt that we ought to get some 
results. There were no crowds of people present 
and there was no announcement of what was 
about to happen. I had not expected to make a 
flight, but climbed into the aviator's seat with a 
feeling that the machine would surely rise into 
the air when I wished, but that I would only try 
it on the water to see how the new float acted. 



DEVELOPING THE HYDKO 131 

Lieutenant Ellyson spun the propeller and I 
turned the machine into the wind. It ploughed 
through the water deeply at first, but gathered 
speed and rose higher and higher in the water 
and skipped more and more lightly until the float 
barely skimmed the surface of the bay. So intent 
was I in watching the water that I did not notice 
that I was approaching the shore and to avoid 
running aground I tilted the horizontal control 
and the machine seemed to leap into the air like 
a frightened gull. So suddenly did it rise that it 
quite took me by surprise. 

But I kept the machine up for perhaps half a 
mile, then turned and dropped lightly down on 
the water, turned around and headed back to the 
starting point. The effect of that first flight on 
the men who had worked, waited, and watched for 
it was magical. They ran up and down the beach, 
throwing their hats up into the air and shouting 
in their enthusiasm. 

I now headed about into the bay, in the direction 
of San Diego, and rose up into the air again even 
more easily than the first time. I flew for half 
a mile and turned twice to see how the machine 
would act in the air with the clumsy-looking float 
below it. The naval repair ship Iris caught sight 
of me as I went flying by and sent its siren blast 
far out over the water, and all the other craft blew 
their whistles, until it seemed as if all San Diego 
knew of the achievement. Satisfied that it was 



132 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

all right, I landed within a few yards of the shore, 
near the hangar. 

We made flights nearly every day after this, 
taking the Army and Navy officers as passengers. 
I found the machine well adapted for passenger 
work and it became very popular. While experi- 
menting we kept changing things from day to 
day, adding and taking off, lightening the machine, 
or adding more surface. We tried putting on an 
extra surface, making a triplane, and got remark- 
able lifting power. We changed the floats and 
finally made one long, flat-bottomed, scow-shaped 
float, twelve feet long, two feet wide, and twelve 
inches deep. It was made of wood, the bow being 
curved upward the full width of the boat and at 
the stern being curved downward in a similar 
manner. This single float was placed under the 
aeroplane so that the weight was slightly to the 
rear of the centre of the float, causing it to slant 
upward, giving it the necessary angle for hydro- 
planing on the surface of the water. 

I will confess that I got more pleasure out of 
flying the new machine over water than I ever got 
flying over land, and the danger, too, was greatly 
lessened. 

I then decided upon a test which I had been in- 
formed the Navy regarded as very important. 
In fact, I had been told that the Secretary of the 
Navy regarded the adaptability of the aeroplane 
to navy uses as depending very largely on its 



DEVELOPING THE HYDEO 133 

ability to alight on the water and be hoisted 
aboard a warship. With the hydroaeroplane I 
had developed, I had no doubts about being able 
to do this, without any platform or preparation 
on board the vessel. 

So, on February 17, at San Diego, I sent word 
over to Captain Charles F. Pond, commanding the 
armoured cruiser Pennsylvania, then in the har- 
bour, that I would be pleased to fly over and be 
hoisted aboard whenever it was convenient to him. 
He replied immediately, "come on over." The 
Pennsylvania is the ship that Ely landed on at 
San Francisco in his memorable flight, and it was 
Captain Pond who at that time gave over his ship 
and lent every assistance in his power to make 
the experiment the success it was. He lent his 
aid to this second experiment as willingly as he 
did to the first. 

There were no special arrangements necessary 
for this test. All that would be needed to get 
the aeroplane and its operator on board would 
be to use one of the big hoisting cranes, just as 
they are used for handling the ship's launches. 

The hydroaeroplane was launched on Spanish 
Bight, and in five minutes I was on the way. 
The machine skimmed over the water for a hun- 
dred yards and then rose into the air. In two 
or three minutes I was alongside the cruiser, just 
off the starboard quarter. There was a strong 
tide running and when I shut off the propeller 



134 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

the aeroplane drifted until a rope thrown from 
the ship was made fast to one of the planes by 
Lieutenant Ellyson of the Navy. It was drawn 
in close to the side of the ship, where a boat crane 
was lowered and I hooked it in a wire sling at- 
tached to the top of the planes. I then climbed 
up on top of the aeroplane and slipped my leg 
through the big hook of the crane, not caring to 
trust too much weight to the untested sling. 

In five minutes from the time I landed on the 
water alongside the ship, the hydroaeroplane re- 
posed easily on the superstructure deck of the big 
cruiser, just forward of the boat crane. It had 
been the easiest sort of work to land it there, and 
thus one more of the problems that stood in the 
way of a successful naval aeroplane was over- 
come. 

The rest of the experiment was performed with 
equal promptness and ease. After a stay of ten 
minutes on the cruiser, the aeroplane was dropped 
overboard by the big boat crane, the propeller was 
cranked by one of the military pupils in aviation, 
and I got under way for the return trip to the 
island. Two minutes later I brought the hydro- 
aeroplane to a stop a few yards away from the 
hangar on the beach. The entire time taken from 
the moment I left North Island for the cruiser to 
the moment I landed on the water at the hangar 
on my return was less than half an hour, and yet 
within this brief space had been written one of 



DEVELOPING THE HYDEO 135 

the most interesting chapters in the history of 
naval aviation. 

I regard this experiment as one of the most in- 
teresting, from my idea of a military experiment, 
that had been attempted up to that time, for the 
reason that no special equipment was needed on 
board the ship. Obviously the objections to the 
landing of an aeroplane on deck from a flight had 
to be overcome, and this could be done with a ma- 
chine that could land on the water and be picked 
up. For a flight from the ship, all that was neces- 
sary was to drop it over the side and watch it rise 
from the water into the air. Such a machine 
could be "knocked down" and stored in a very 
small space when not in use; and when wanted 
for a flight, it could be brought out and set up in 
a short time on deck. 

An aeroplane sent from a scout ship on a scout- 
ing flight must, to be efficient, be able to carry a 
passenger, especially if it be sent for any purpose 
other than as a messenger, where speed would be 
the first consideration. But if sent to seek infor- 
mation as to an enemy's position, to take observa- 
tions and make maps of the surrounding country, 
or with any of a dozen other objects in view where 
a trained observer would be necessary, it seems to 
me it should be equipped to carry at least two, and 
possibly three, persons the aviator and two pas- 
sengers. There were many machines capable of 
carrying one or more passengers on land flights, 



136 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

so I set about equipping one to carry passengers 
on water flights. 

This I first succeeded in doing on February 23, 
when I took up Lieutenant T. G. Ellyson of the 
Navy, in the hydroaeroplane. We rose from the 
water without difficulty, flew over San Diego Bay 
and returning, alighted on the water with perfect 
ease. 

This was all very well and good where a flight 
was to be made from the water and back to the 
water; but I believed we should go further and 
provide a machine that would be able to go from 
one to the other from water to land and land 
back to water before it could be said that all the 
difficulties of making the aeroplane adaptable to 
both Army and Navy uses had been overcome. 
This was of comparatively easy accomplishment, 
and on Sunday, February 26, I made the first 
flight from water to land and from land back to 
water. Starting from North Island, on the wa- 
ters of Spanish Bight, I flew out over the ocean 
and down the beach to a point near Coronado Ho- 
tel, where I came down on the smooth sand of the 
beach. Eeturning, the machine started from the 
beach and came back to the water on Spanish 
Bight whence I had started. 

With these achievements it seems to me the aer- 
oplane has reached the point of utility for mili- 
tary purposes either for the Army or Navy. It 
now seems possible to use it to establish commu- 



DEVELOPING THE HYDBO 137 

nication between the Navy and Army, when there 
are no other means of communication. That is, 
a warship could launch an aeroplane that can fly 
over sea and land and come to earth on whichever 
element affords the best landing. Having ful- 
filled its mission on shore it could start from 
the land, and, returning to the home ship, land 
at its side and be picked up, as I was picked 
up and hoisted aboard the Pennsylvania at San 
Diego. 

Here let me call attention to the splendid field 
that California offers for the development of avi- 
ation, with its climate, permitting aviation to be 
pursued all the year, and its large winter tourist 
population with wealth and leisure to devote to 
furthering the art of flight. In California even 
the legislature recognises the increasing popu- 
larity of flying, and it has given careful attention 
to the formation of laws to protect the aeroplane 
and the aviator. 

There remained one thing further to accomplish 
complete success with the hydroaeroplane, and 
that was to devise a method of successfully launch- 
ing the machine from a ship without touching the 
water and without resorting to any cumbersome 
platform or any other launching apparatus that 
would interfere with the ship 's ordinary working. 
To accomplish this would solve the principal ob- 
stacle that stood in the way of using the hydro- 
aeroplane at sea. 



138 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Lieutenant Theodore G. Ellyson, of the United 
States Navy, had been working out a plan for 
doing this and it was not until September, 1911, 
that the experiment was finally completed at 
Hammondsport, where operations were continued 
after breaking up the camp at San Diego, late in 
the spring. 

A platform sixteen feet high was erected on 
the shore of Lake Keuka and a wire cable two 
hundred and fifty feet long was stretched from 
the platform to a spile under water out in the 
lake. The hydroaeroplane was set on this wire 
cable near the platform on which the men stood 
to start the propeller. A groove was made along 
the bottom of the boat in which the cable fitted 
loosely, to guide it as it slid down, until sufficient 
headway was obtained to enable the wings of the 
aeroplane to support the weight of the machine. 
A trial of this method of launching was entirely 
successful. The machine started down the cable 
gathering headway and we all watched it grace- 
fully rise into the air and fly out over the lake. 
This launching from a wire -is the last step in the 
development of handling the aeroplane and it is 
hardly possible to foresee all the many important 
applications which will be made in the future of 
this type of machine, since a cable can be easily 
stretched from the bow of any vessel, which can 
then steam into the wind, easily enabling an aero- 
plane to be launched in almost any weather, while 



DEVELOPING THE HYDEO 139 

it can without difficulty land under the lea of the 
vessel and be hoisted on board again. 

As the wireless has almost revolutionised ocean 
navigation by furnishing a means of constant 
communication between steamers, perhaps the 
hydroaeroplane will be able to bring passengers 
back to shore or take them from shore to a ship 
on the high sea, or enable visits to be made be- 
tween ships that pass on the ocean. Great, pow- 
erful hydroaeroplanes may be able to cross the 
ocean itself at high speed, and they will no doubt 
add greatly to the safety of ocean travel, as well 
as furnish the Navy with an arm of destruction 
much more far-reaching than its most effective 
guns or torpedoes. 

Frank Coffyn in May, 1912, took a belated 
passenger from the Battery, New York City, out 
to a steamer as it was steaming out of the lower 
bay and landed him safely aboard a hint of 
future possibilities. 

We had a curious opportunity to prove how 
the hydroaeroplane can be an arm of preservation 
as well as destruction, when at the Chicago meet 
of 1911. Simon, dashing over the lake, dropped 
in his machine. Hugh Eobinson had been putting 
a hydroaeroplane through its evolutions, to the 
great interest of the crowd, who evidently 
thought it a sort of freak machine, but when Si- 
mon fell Eobinson was after him instantly, and 
for the first time in the history of the world, a 



140 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

man flew through the air from dry land, alighted 
on the water beside a man in distress, and before 
anything else could get there, invited him to fly 
back to shore with him. As there were boats 
close at hand, the offer was not needed, but the 
value of the land-air-water machine had been 
proved, for it had left its hangar and flown a mile 
from shore in a little more than a minute. 

The hydroaeroplane can already fly sixty miles 
an hour, skim the water at fifty miles, and run 
over the earth at thirty-five miles. Driven over 
the surface of the water the new machine can 
pass the fastest motor boat ever built and will re- 
spond to its rudder more quickly than any water 
craft afloat. Its appeal will be as strong to the 
aquatic as to the aerial enthusiast. 

Flying an aeroplane is thrilling sport, but fly- 
ing a hydroaeroplane is something to arouse the 
jaded senses of the most blase. It fascinates, ex- 
hilarates, vivifies. It is like a yacht with hori- 
zontal sails that support it on the breezes. To 
see it skim the water like a swooping gull and 
then rise into the air, circle and soar to great 
heights, and finally drop gracefully down upon 
the water again, furnishes a thrill and inspires a 
wonder that does not come with any other sport 
on earth. 

The hydroaeroplane is safer than the ordinary 
aeroplane, and for this reason is bound to become 
the most popular of aerial craft. The begin- 



DEVELOPING THE HYDEO 141 

ner can take it out on his neighboring lake or 
river, or even the great bays, and skim it over the 
water until he is sure of himself and sure that he 
can control it in the air. He can fly it six feet 
above the water for any distance, with the feeling 
that even if something should happen to cause a 
fall, he will not be dashed to pieces. The worst 
he will get is a cold bath. 

The hydroaeroplane may compete with motor 
boats as a water craft, or in the air with the fast- 
est aeroplane. It can start from the land on its 
wheels, but launch itself on the water where there 
is lack of room for rising from the land. 

Its double qualities as a water and air craft 
make possible flights that could not be attempted 
with the aeroplane. 

At Cedar Point, Ohio, I had to fly the new ma- 
chine when a strong gale was blowing across Lake 
Erie, kicking up a heavy surf. However, I deter- 
mined to make the attempt under what were ex- 
tremely trying conditions, and so started it on 
the beach and under the power of the aerial pro- 
peller, launched it through a heavy surf. 

Beyond the surf I found very rough water, but 
turning the machine into the wind, I arose from 
the water without the least difficulty, and circled 
and soared over the lake for fifteen minutes. I 
landed without trouble on the choppy water a few 
hundred yards off shore, and after guiding the 
hydroaeroplane up and down the beach for the 



142 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

inspection of the great crowd, made a second flight 
of ten minutes' duration, and landed safely upon 
the sandy beach. That was the hardest test I 
have ever given the hydroaeroplane, and I think 
a very severe one. I am satisfied that it can he 
used in more than ordinarily rough water, if it 
is properly handled. 

There is no question that in this particular line 
of aeronautics, America is now leading the world ; 
but the hydroaeroplane contests recently held at 
Monte Carlo and the experiments made in France 
by the Voisin Brothers' " Canard," which was 
erroneously hailed by the French press as being 
the first occasion when a machine had risen from 
the water with two men, show that the French 
are not far behind us. 

Other experiments have been made in Europe 
by Fabre, who was the first to achieve any degree 
of success in this line, and by the Duf aux Brothers 
on the Lake of Geneva, to say nothing of the 
flights made by Herbster, the old Farman pilot, 
on an Astra- Wright at Lucerne, and if the Ameri- 
can aeronautic industry does not awaken to the 
immediate possibilities along this line, it will once 
more be overtaken by Europeans. 

There are thousands of men throughout the 
country who would gladly take up a new mechan- 
ical sport as a successor to motor boating and 
motoring if they felt they could do so with a rea- 



DEVELOPING THE HYDRO 143 

sonable degree of safety to themselves, and ade- 
quate assurance that the life of their machine 
would be commensurate to the price paid for it. 

Followers of the sport of motor boating, which 
has made thousands of converts during the past 
few years, are already turning to the hydroplane, 
which skims over the water at much greater speed 
and less power. The next step will be the hydro- 
aeroplane, which can skim over the water in ex- 
actly the same way and has the further enormous 
advantage of rising into the air whenever the 
driver so desires. The sport should develop rap- 
idly next summer and be in full swing in a few 
years. Several improvements of detail will have 
to be made. Ways of housing the craft of stop- 
ping the engine of muffling the roar of the motor, 
will be devised ; while more comfort for the pilot 
and passengers will be arranged. 

If a cross-country flight is too dangerous to at- 
tempt because of the rough character of the land, 
the hydroaeroplane can follow a river course with 
perfect safety. Or, if there is no water course 
and the country is level, it can take the land 
course with equal safety. 

In short, it matters little whether an aerial 
course takes one over land or water, the hydro- 
aeroplane is the safest machine for flight. With 
the "Triad," as we called the machine from its 
triple field air, land, and water the Great 



144 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Lakes offer no impassable obstacle to a long flight, 
and it is within the vision of him who watches the 
trend of things, that an over-sea flight is not far 
in the future. 



NOTE BY AUGUSTUS POST 

THE " FLYING BOAT" 

At San Diego, on Jan. 10, 1912, a new type of 
Curtiss hydroaeroplane, or " flying boat," was 
given its first trial on the bay. It had been de- 
signed and constructed under strict secrecy at 
Hammondsport. The public knew nothing as to 
the details of this craft until it was taken out on 
the bay in order to test its balance and speed on 
the water. 

This craft, which was equipped to carry a pas- 
senger, was driven by a sixty horse-power motor. 
In contact with the water, it went at over fifty 
miles an hour ; and lifted off the water, it travelled 
at more than sixty miles an hour in the air. It 
differs in many respects from the hydroaeroplane 
now in use by the United States Navy officers 
who, by the way, were present and witnessed the 
test. There were two propellers instead of one 
and these were driven by clutch and chain trans- 
mission. They were really "tractors," being in 
front of the planes; the motor had a new auto- 
matic starter, and there was also a fuel gauge and 



DEVELOPING THE HYDEO 145 

bilge pump. The transmission has since been 
changed to direct drive. 

The boat, or hydro equipment, contained a bulk- 
head fore and aft, was twenty feet long, with an 
upward slope in front and a downward slope in 
the rear. The hydro equipment, which was more 
like a boat than anything yet designed, was able 
to withstand any wind or wave that a motor boat 
of similar size could weather. The aviator sat 
comfortably in the hull with the engine not behind 
him, but forward in the hull in this model. 

THE "FLYING FISH" 

A "No. 2 flying boat," just built by Mr. Cur- 
tiss, and successfully tested on Lake Keuka, 
Hammondsport, in July, 1912, is the "last word" 
in aviation so far. An illustration in this book, 
made from photographs taken in mid-July, 1912, 
shows fully the bullet-shape of the "flying fish." 

It is a real looat, built with a fish-shaped body 
containing two comfortable seats for the pilot 
and passenger or observer, either of whom can 
operate the machine by a system of dual control, 
making it also available for teaching the art of 
flying. 

All the controls are fastened to the rear of the 
boat's hull, which makes them very rigid and 
strong, while the boat itself, made in stream-line 
form, offers the least possible resistance to the 
air, even less than that offered by the landing 



146 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

gear upon a standard land machine. Above the 
boat are mounted the wings and aeroplane sur- 
face. In the centre of this standard biplane con- 
struction is situated the eighty horse-power motor 
with its propeller in the rear, thus returning to 
the original practice, as in the standard Curtiss 
machines, of having a single propeller attached 
direct to the motor, thus doing away with all 
chains and transmission gearing which might 
give trouble, and differing from the earlier model 
flying boat built in San Diego, California, last 
winter (1911-12), which was equipped with 
"tractor" propellors propellers in front driven 
by chains. 

The new flying boat is twenty-six feet long and 
three feet wide. The planes are five and a half 
feet deep and thirty feet wide. It runs on the 
water at a speed of fifty miles an hour, and is 
driven by an eighty horse-power Curtiss motor. 
At a greater speed than this it cannot be kept on 
the water, but rises in the air and flies at from 
fifty to sixty miles per hour. 

The boat itself is provided with water-tight 
compartments so that if any one compartment 
should be damaged the flotation afforded by the 
other would be sufficient to keep the craft afloat. 
It is also provided with wheels for making a land- 
ing on the shore; these wheels fold up, thus not 
interfering in the slightest with its manoeuvres 
over the water. The boat is so strongly built 



148 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

that it can be readily beached even through a 
high surf and handled the same as a fisherman 
would handle his dory, or it may be housed afloat 
like a motor boat or anchored to a buoy like a 
yacht. 

In rough water the spray-hood with which this 
type of boat is provided protects the navigators 
from getting wet and enables the craft to be used 
very much as you might use a high speed motor 
boat, with the added excitement of being able to 
rise above other crafts or fly over them if they 
get in the way. It looks very much like a flying 
fish in the air and although designed to skim 
close to the surface of the water at high speed it 
can rise to as high an altitude as the standard 
land machine. 

Mr. Curtiss states: "My idea was to provide 
a machine especially adapted for the requirements 
of the sportsman, one that would be simple to 
operate and absolutely safe. During the tests 
which we have made with this flying boat it car- 
ried three people with ease and the boat rose with- 
out difficulty with the extra passenger, although 
it is only designed to accommodate two people. " 

With the hydroaeroplane a safe landing can 
always be made, and if, through inexperience or 
carelessness of the driver, a bad landing is made, 
no injury to the operator or passenger can occur 
other than what may result from a "ducking." 

This boat shows how directly aeroplane-build- 




THE EVOLUTION OP THE HYDRO 

(A) (B) The flying boat of summer, 1012 on land and in the air. <C) A con- 
trast the hydroaeroplane of winter, 1911 






"*. I 



HYDROAEROPLANE FLIGHTS 



(A) Curtiss driving the "Triad" over Lake Erie, 
ground-swells at Atlantic City 



(B) Witmer riding the 



DEVELOPING THE HYDRO 149 

ers are turning to air craft available for amateur 
sport not for exhibition "stunts." Such boats 
will have ample protection for the passenger and 
be able to carry a large quantity of fuel together 
with wireless apparatus and provisions, so that 
long overwater journeys may be made in com- 
parative comfort, and also well within the radius 
of communication by wireless. And most of all 
they are safe! A. P. 

THE NAVY ON THE HYDRO 

(AUGUSTUS POST) 

Captain Washington Irving Chambers, head 
of the Aeronautical Bureau, United States 
Navy, in a speech delivered at the Aeronautical 
Society 's banquet in New York, said: 

"The hydroaeroplane is the coming machine 
so far as the navy is concerned ; in fact, it has al- 
ready come. 1 The navy machine built by Glenn 

i The fame of the hydroaeroplane has reached the Orient and a 
demonstration was recently given at Tokyo, Japan, for the benefit 
of the Japanese Army and Navy officials by Mr. W. B. Atwater, 1 
of New York. Mr. and Mrs. Atwater are on a tour of the world, 
carrying with them two Curtiss hydroaeroplanes and giving dem- 
onstrations of a practical character before the military authori- 
ties of all the countries en route. On Saturday, May llth, 1912, 
he made three flights at Tokyo, the first hydro flights ever seen 
in the Orient. 

There was a great gathering of military men to witness the 
flights, among them Prince Kwacho, representing the Japanese 
Imperial Family; Admiral Saito, Minister of the Imperial Navy, 
and Vice- Admiral Uryu. 



150 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

Curtiss has had several tryouts and has proved 
itself a success. I recently had a flight with Mr. 
Curtiss in this machine, the 'Triad,' at Ham- 
mondsport, N. Y. 

"With two passengers seated side by side, the 
control can be shifted from one to the other easily 
while in the air. When we had gone a mile Cur- 
tiss yelled to me to take the control. The levers 
had been explained to me on the ground, but I 
had not familiarised myself with them for the 
purpose of handling the machine under way. I 
turned on a notch and the front plane tilted up, 
bringing the machine off the water to a level of 
four feet in the air. We kept this level for an- 
other mile or two, when Curtiss took the control 
again. He turned the plane lever another notch 
and we rose to a ten-foot level and encircled the 
lake several times without changing from this 
level more than a foot or two, lower or higher." 

As a justification of Captain Chambers' re- 
marks, the Aero Club of America, at their annual 
banquet held on January 27, 1912, awarded the 
"Collier Trophy" to Mr. Curtiss for his success- 
ful development and thorough demonstration of 
the hydroaeroplane, the terms of the deed of gift 
stating that "it shall be awarded annually for the 

According to the statement of the Jcvpwn Advertiser the Jap- 
anese Navy has followed the example of Russia, and forwarded to 
America an order for four Curtiss hydroaeroplanes. A. P. 



DEVELOPING THE HYDEO 151 

greatest achievement in aviation in America, the 
value of which has been demonstrated by use dur- 
ing the preceding year." 

The trophy is a group in bronze by Ernest Wise 
Keyser of New York, representing the triumph 
of man over gravity and other forces of nature. 
The trophy was donated by Eobert J. Collier, 
president of the Aero Club of America. A. P. 



PAET IV 
THE REAL FUTURE OF THE AEROPLANE 

BY 

GLENN H. CURTISS 

WITH CHAPTERS BY 

CAPTAIN PAUL W. BECK, U. S. A., LIEUTENANT 
THEODORE G. ELLYSON, U. S. N., AND AUGUSTUS POST 



CHAPTEE I 

AEROPLANE SPEED OF THE FUTURE 

IF you look over the books on aviation that 
were published even a comparatively short 
time ago, you will see how much of them is given 
to prophecies and how little to records of perform- 
ance. Because, of course, as soon as the aero- 
plane came into existence every one with eyesight 
and a little imagination could see that here was 
a new factor in the world's work that would 
change the course of things in almost every way, 
and naturally every one began to forecast the 
possibilities of aerial flight. And at first, when 
the machine was really so little known, even to 
the inventor, that aviators hesitated to push it 
to the extreme of its possibilities, writers had 
more to say about what the aeroplane would prob- 
ably do than what it had actually done. But the 
aeroplane, which is bound to break all speed-rec- 
ords, has made history at the fastest rate yet. 
Day by day we move things over from the proph- 
ecy department to the history chapter, and as 
the days slip by on their rush to join the future, 
hardly one but leaves a record of accomplishment 

155 



156 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

and achievement to justify the aeroplane proph- 
ets. 

At first, as I have just said, aviators could not 
believe in the powers of the machine; we used 
to trim down our garments to the lightest point, 
to avoid extra weight, whereas now we bundle up 
in heavy furs, or wear two suits, one over the 
other, to meet the intense cold of the upper air; 
and a great surplus of weight can be carried by 
almost all machines. We used to wait for a calm 
almost absolute before going up it used to be 
a regular thing to see aviators wetting their fin- 
gers and holding them up to see from which di- 
rection the faint breezes were coming or drop- 
ping bits of paper to see if the air was in that 
complete stillness we used to think necessary for 
successful flight. When I was waiting for just 
the right moment in Albany to begin the Hudson 
Flight which, because of the unusual and abso- 
lutely unknown atmospheric conditions over a 
river flowing between precipitous and irregular 
hills, had to be timed with unusual care the 
Poughkeepsie paper in an editorial said the "Cur- 
tiss gives us a pain in the neck." 

Even after I had made the flight the Paterson 
Call made the wait a reason for denying the use 
of aeroplanes in time of war, pointing out how 
amusing it would be to see in the newspaper re- 
ports of the wars of the future, "Battle postponed 
on account of the weather !" Whereas now we 



FUTURE SPEED 157 

go up without hesitation into what is actually a 
gale of wind, and under weather conditions that 
would have made the first flyers think it absolute 
suicide. 

This discussion of the future of the aeroplane 
will have more of a basis of solid fact for its 
prophecy than if it had been written a couple of 
years ago. Some ideas the world has as to the 
future of the machine we have had reluctantly 
to abandon or at least indefinitely to postpone, 
but so many new fields of activity have opened 
that one may only sketch the principal lines along 
which it is reasonable to expect the aeroplane 
and the art and science of mechanical flight to 
develop. 

The most practical present and future uses of 
the aeroplane in the order of relative importance 
which it seems to me that these uses will natu- 
rally take, are: for sport, war, and special pur- 
poses which the aeroplane itself will create. 

SPEED PRESENT AND FUTURE 

In saying "for sport " I mean both for the avi- 
ator himself and for the spectators interested in 
watching his aerial evolutions and enthusiastic 
over results; over sporting competitions, speed 
races, and record flights of all kinds. Such flights 
provide as much fun for the fellow who looks on 
as the fellow who flies and gives an opportunity 
for those who take pleasure in acting in an offi- 



158 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

cial capacity to exercise authority to their hearts' 
content ! 

Speed will always be a most important factor 
in the development of the sporting side of avia- 
tion. Almost all races depend upon speed and 
activity; and the aeroplane, the material embodi- 
ment and symbol of speed, equals and in many 
cases surpasses the speed of the wind. 

Speed will have no bounds in the future. As 
I have already said briefly in passing, aeroplanes 
will soon be going considerably over one hundred 
miles per hour. A motorcycle has gone at the 
rate of one hundred and thirty-seven miles per 
hour and an aeroplane should be able to go even 
faster. With the help of a strong wind blowing 
in the direction of flight, two hundred miles an 
hour ought to be possible of attainment. Ma- 
chines for high speed, however, must have some 
means of contracting the wing area or flattening 
out the curve in the planes so that when we want 
to go fast, we can reduce the amount of surface 
of the machine to lessen friction and so that when 
we want to go more slowly and land, we can in- 
crease the size of the wing surface. 

The Etrich machine built in Austria has been 
constructed so that the curvature of the planes 
can be changed by operating a lever near the 
pilot; this enables the machine to attain high 
speed in flight and to fly more slowly in starting 
and landing. 



FUTURE SPEED 159 

The record is one hundred and eight miles an 
hour now (September, 1912) and we will not be 
surprised to see it climb up in proportion as rap- 
idly as the altitude record did in 1911. 

There is no wonder that an aeroplane race 
should create such absorbing interest, almost 
amounting to a craze, in the mind of the public 
directly interested. Speed is the one thing about 
the aeroplane that appeals both to the practical 
and to the imaginative man ; the man of business, 
to whom saving time means saving money, and 
the poet, or the man of leisure, to whom the words 
"make a bee-line" that is, an air line have al- 
ways stood for speed and directness. Now in 
earth or rail friction-machines, the limit of speed 
has almost been reached, except in the case of 
monorail vehicles, and there seems to be little 
progress in this direction. With the aeroplane, 
on the contrary, speed is only in its infancy. 
None of the difficulties that check the development 
of speed in the automobile or locomotive attend 
the aeroplane. What means speed now ninety or 
ninety-five miles an hour merely marks a stage 
in the machine 's development ; a hundred and fifty 
an hour is even now within its possibilities, and 
a much greater speed is by no means beyond the 
vision of the present generation. What the boys 
of to-day are going to see when they grow up no 
one can foretell. It is largely a question of mo- 
tive power that and the reduction of resistance. 



160 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

In the latter respect I have already materially cut 
down the resistance of the newest type of Curtiss 
machine, in order to increase the speed. I was 
able, as I have said, to win the International Cup 
at Rheims in 1909 with a speed of forty-seven and 
one-half miles an hour. At Los Angeles during 
the past winter my latest type was able to fly 
more than seventy miles an hour, and the same 
type of engine, an eight-cylinder, has also been 
made more powerful, thus the increased speed is 
due to the improvements in the lines of the ma- 
chine, the reduction of surface, and the controls, 
and the increase of the power of the motor. 

There is still room for reduction of surfaces, 
minor improvements in the general outlines and 
in the control; but the largest element in any in- 
crease of speed must rest with the development 
of the motor. Increased power is the tendency, 
with as much reduction in weight as possible. 
Personally, I can't see much room for reduction 
in weight. At present I am using a motor of my 
own manufacture that weighs but three pounds 
to the horse-power. This I consider extremely 
light as compared, for instance, with the engines 
used in submarines of the Navy, which weigh 
from sixty to seventy pounds to the horse-power. 
Still, there will be some reduction in weight per 
horse-power. 

With the great speed that will undoubtedly 
mark the aeroplane flights even of the near future, 



FUTURE SPEED 161 

the physical endurance of the operator will count 
for a great deal in long flights. By the time we 
can fly much over a hundred miles an hour there 
will have to be some means of protection devised 
for the operator, for anyone who has travelled 
sixty or seventy miles an hour in an automobile 
knows how uncomfortable such a trip becomes if 
it keeps up over long distances. The driver of 
an aeroplane sitting out in front unprotected 
causes far more ^head-resistance." It will be an 
easy matter to arrange some sort of protection for 
him. 

How strong this ^head-resistance" can be, I re- 
alised in a curious experience while racing with 
Ely at Los Angeles, going at probably sixty-five 
miles an hour. I looked upward to see just where 
Ely was flying, and as I raised my head the wind 
got under my eyelids and puffed them out like toy 
balloons. For a moment I was confused and 
could scarcely see, but as soon as I turned my gaze 
on the ground the wind pressure forced the lids 
back into their normal position. 

SAFER THAN AUTOMOBILE RACES 

I believe there are fewer dangers in racing 
aeroplanes than in racing automobiles. Eaces 
run over the ground have to contend against ob- 
structions to the course, tire troubles, and "skid- 
ding" on a wet track, or in making sharp turns. 
None of these exist in the race in the air. The 



162 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

course is always clear, there is no " track, ' ' wet or 
dry, and as for the turns that look so desperate 
to the inexperienced observer on the ground, the 
operator, far from slipping out of his seat as he 
4 1 banks" sharply, sits tight and feels as if he 
were going on an even keel. If you can imagine 
how the water in a pail would feel as you swing 
the pail around your head so fast that not a drop 
spills, you can realise the sense of stability that 
the aviator feels as he whirls around a circular 
course at a tremendous rate of speed, in fact, 
once an aeroplane is up in the air, it is often safer 
to travel fast than it is to travel slow. 

ACCIDENTS 

Of course it would be folly, in view of the list of 
accidents, fatal and otherwise, that the newspa- 
pers print and reprint every time a noted aviator 
falls, to assert that there is no danger in flying. 
I doubt if the American man, especially the Amer- 
ican young man, would take to the aeroplane so 
enthusiastically if the sport were as safe as par- 
lour croquet. There is, of course, always danger 
of something going wrong with an aeroplane in 
flight that may bring it down too quickly for 
safety, but unless the derangement is vital, an 
expert aviator can make a safe landing, even with 
a "dead" motor. And the dangers of flight are 
growing less and less every year as the machine 



FUTUBE SPEED 163 

is improved and as the aviator becomes more skil- 
ful and more experienced in air conditions. The 
report of the French Government for 1911 shows 
that there have been only one-tenth as many fatal 
accidents in proportion to the number of flights 
made, as in the first year of aviation, but each ac- 
cident has made ten times as much stir. 

INCEEASE IN SKILL 

Perhaps the greatest advancement in aviation 
during the past year has been due to the increased 
skill of the aviators. Men like Beachey, Mc- 
Curdy, Willard, Brookins, Parmelee, Latham, 
Kadley, and others who have made flights in this 
country, have shown remarkable strides in the art 
of flying. This advancement has been in experi- 
ence in knowing what to do in all sorts of 
weather in taking advantage of air currents and 
in knowing how to make safe landings when trou- 
ble occurs. A year ago it would have looked like 
a desire to commit suicide to attempt some of the 
" stunts " these men now perform as a part of 
their daily exhibitions. 

At the same time, I want to make it plain that, 
personally, I do not now, nor ever have encour- 
aged so-called "fancy" flying. I regard some of 
the spectacular gyrations performed by any of 
half a dozen flyers I know as foolhardy and as 
taking unnecessary chances. I do not believe 



164 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

fancy or trick flying demonstrates anything ex- 
cept an unlimited amount of nerve and skill and, 
perhaps, the possibilities of aerial acrobatics. 

CROSS-COUNTRY EACES 

The year 1912 in America is the year of great 
cross-country flights. We have already seen the 
foreshadowing of this development in the great 
flights of Atwood from St. Louis to New York and 
Eodgers from coast to coast. Eodgers' trip was 
a great feat. Just think! Clear across the 
United States and so many smashes that only a 
man with indomitable will and pluck would have 
kept on to success. Eodgers became an expert at 
landing and made landings almost anywhere. 
Soon we shall see, instead of men flying alone as 
in the case of these trips, double flights with two 
pilots relieving each other so that the" distance 
covered in flights may be increased, and the capa- 
bilities of machines for endurance can be fully 
shown. 

The Gordon Bennett International Cup race at 
Chicago this year brought to this country two of 
the best racing machines in the world and has 
stimulated interest in aviation to a higher pitch 
than it has ever had in the United States. At the 
next Gordon Bennett, I hope to see an American 
surpass even Vedrines' speed of one hundred and 
five miles an hour for one hundred twenty-four 
and eight-tenths miles. 



FUTUEE SPEED 165 

RACING TYPES OF TO-MORROW 

There have been many meets since Bheims, 
some international, some of local importance ; in- 
deed almost every citizen of a civilised country 
has had a chance to attend some one of them with- 
out too great a journey, but what I have said of 
one meet is true to some degree of all : that racing 
and contests in general, especially between differ- 
ent makes of machines, is of the greatest use to 
the development of the aeroplane, just as compe- 
tition among automobile manufacturers, in put- 
ting out racing machines, helped the development 
of that vehicle. 

There are at the present time a number of types 
and makes of aeroplanes, each claiming some es- 
pecial advantage over the others, and trying to 
demonstrate it. Some of these will drop out 
some of them have dropped already some will 
develop toward the aeroplane of the future, which 
we can only infer from the machines of to-day. 
The way to bring about this " survival of the fit- 
test " is by speed contests and endurance races, 
where the American manufacturer pits his ma- 
chine against the foreign-made article and the bi- 
plane contends against the monoplane. 

The public believed, when these two types came 
into being, that there would be a sharp division 
of uses between them ; that the biplane would ex- 
cel in just certain directions, the monoplane in 



166 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

others, and the public has watched the various 
records of speed, of endurance, of distance, as 
they changed back and forth between the two 
types, and has found that deciding their relative 
merits and assigning their special uses was by 
no means the simple and summary process they 
thought it would be. The contests will have to 
evolve new rules and regulations; for instance, 
there will have to be some means of handicapping 
machines with very high-power engines and small 
plane surface as in the case of monoplanes, 
which, with a minimum of plane surface and high 
power engines, have a speed advantage over the 
biplanes, that with equal engine power have much 
larger plane surface. Perhaps the method of 
handicapping now used in certain races of stock 
automobiles, that is cubic displacement of the en- 
gine, will be adopted. 

PUBLIC INTEKEST IN MEETS 

The aviation meet at Los Angeles, California, 

[ 1 in 1911, was a good indication of what great and 

deep interest the public have in contests in the 

air, and will have in the great races of the future. 

Aeroplane flights called thirty thousand people 
through the gates the second day of the ten days' 
meet. This is the biggest crowd, I believe, that 
ever paid admission to an aviation meet, in this 
country, and probably the largest that has ever 
attended any outdoor attraction except the world 's 



FUTUEE SPEED 167 

series baseball games and the few big football 
games. In addition, there was a considerable 
crowd on the outside who did not pay admission, 
but the actual paid admissions on Sunday were 
more than thirty thousand. This third annual 
meet did better than either of those held during 
the two previous years, and this, I am convinced, 
proves that aviation is a standard and lasting 
attraction. 



CHAPTER II 

FUTURE SURPRISES OF THE AEROPLANE HUNTING, 
TRAVEL, MAIL, WIRELESS, LIFE-SAVING, AND OTHER 
SPECIAL USES 

MANY will be the future uses of the aero- 
plane ; special uses not necessarily depend- 
ent on speed. 

Sportsmen are likely to find in the aeroplane, 
especially in the hydro, an admirable vehicle for 
hunting, aside from their interest in its racing 
capacity. Already there is pending in the Cali- 
fornia legislature a bill designed to regulate 
shooting from an aeroplane, intended as an addi- 
tion to the California aeroplane traffic regula- 
tions, described later. While this bill is probably 
intended as more or less of a joke, it has been 
thoroughly demonstrated that it is possible to 
shoot wild ducks from an aeroplane. Hubert 
Latham proved this fact in his Antoinette mono- 
plane at Los Angeles. 

Latham flew from Dominguez Field to the 
Bolsa Chica Gun Club on the shore of the Pacific, 
ten miles away, and chased wild ducks for thirty 
minutes, finally bagging one. The sportsmen of 
California thought they saw in this feat of La- 

168 



AEROPLANE SURPRISES 169 

tham's the near approach of a time when the aero- 
plane would be utilised for exterminating game, 
and seemed much exercised over the incident. 
The newspapers saw only the humour of the inci- 
dent, however, and the sportsmen were quickly re- 
assured. 

Latham, not content with this achievement and 
thirsting for new thrills, said that he was going 
to fly up into the Rocky Mountains and shoot griz- 
zly bears. His last undertaking was to take his 
aeroplane with him to the Congo where he went 
to hunt big game and to use the aeroplane in this 
novel and sensational sport. Strange to relate, 
after having braved all the dangers of the air, he 
met his fate by being gored to death by a 
wounded and infuriated wild buffalo, in July, 
1912. 

Some ranchers out west have clubbed together 
to purchase an aeroplane for hunting wolves 
which have been killing their cattle, and four avi- 
ators flew over San Fernando Valley in California 
recently, eagerly watching the underbrush for a 
sight of two fugitive bandits who for two days 
had eluded a large sheriff 's posse after attempt- 
ing to hold up a railway agent and mortally 
wounding a deputy at San Fernando. Each avi- 
ator was sworn in as a deputy and carried with 
him an observer provided with a powerful field 
glass. They reported that they could see objects 
very clearly below. 



170 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

In scouring the hills one of the observers 
thought that he had surely spotted his man and 
the plane was dipped abruptly toward the ground. 
On returning he said, "It was a dog I saw and I'll 
bet that dog is running yet. ' ' 

I have heard on the best of authority that an 
aviator in this country chased a buzzard until it 
fell exhausted and that in Europe this same game 
was played by a German aviator upon a large 
stork. 

AEKIAL BIRD-NETTING 

On my practice flights in a hydroaeroplane 
over San Diego Bay, I noticed on several occa- 
sions that pelicans and sea gulls and even wild 
ducks got in my path, and I was sometimes 
obliged to change my course in order to avoid the 
slow-flying fowl. It occurred to me that with a 
net affixed to the forward part of the planes it 
would have been an easy matter to run down and 
bag a pelican, and possibly a sea gull. The ducks 
are too quick to be caught by an aeroplane, as yet. 
Chasing ducks in an aeroplane and catching them 
in a net would be about as thrilling a sport as 
one can imagine. Perhaps when the killing of 
wild fowl with guns shall have palled on sports- 
men, we shall see the method of "netting" them 
with an aeroplane come into use. Something af- 
ter the manner of scientists who hunt the lepi- 
doptera. 



AEEOPLANE SUBPRISES 171 

Mrs. Lillian Janeway Platt Atwater, of New 
York, while taking instructions in the operation 
of the hydroaeroplane at North Island, early in 
1912, tried my new method of catching seabirds. 
She asked Lieut. J. W. McClaskey, instructor at 
the Curtiss school, to take out the hydroaeroplane, 
with her as a passenger, and attempt to catch a 
pelican or gull with a net. The instructor 
promptly agreed and for almost half an hour the 
big hydroaeroplane with Lieut. McClaskey and 
Mrs. Atwater chased pelicans and sea gulls up 
and down the bay. They discontinued the hunt 
only when a large pelican barely escaped becom- 
ing entangled in the propeller, which would have 
smashed it and possibly caused an accident. On 
another occasion Mrs. Atwater did actually suc- 
ceed in catching a gull while flying with her hus- 
band. 

Shooting rabbits from an aeroplane would be 
comparatively easy. I came to this conclusion 
while flying over North Island, which is covered 
with weeds and sagebrush for the most part, with 
hundreds of jack-rabbits and cottontails living 
there. At first these rabbits were terribly fright- 
ened by the aeroplane and ran in all directions to 
escape. They soon became used to the sight, 
however, and would watch the aeroplane with a 
great deal of curiosity. One of the big jack-rab- 
bits, either from fright or curiosity, waited too 
long to get out of the way of Harry Harkness in 



172 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

his Antoinette, when he made a rather abrupt de- 
scent, and it was cut in two by the propeller. 

MAIL-CABRYING 

One of the most important special uses to which 
the aeroplane is particularly adapted is for car- 
rying the mail. Eoyal mail was first actually 
handled at Allahabad in India last summer, dur- 
ing which over 6,000 letters were transferred. 
This service was planned to prove the great value 
of an aeroplane post during war time to a be- 
sieged town. A mail route via aeroplane was es- 
tablished on trial between London and Windsor 
in England, which carried several tons of mail 
matter. And in this country last fall Postmaster- 
General Frank H. Hitchcock and Captain Paul 
Beck, U. S. A., inaugurated the first aerial postal 
service regularly established in the United States, 
over a route between the Aero Club of America's 
flying grounds at Nassau Boulevard on Long Is- 
land, and Mineola, L. I. A picturesque account 
of this little episode is given by Frank O'Malley, 
who wrote : 

"The flying events of the day at the Nassau 
Boulevard aviation meet came to an end in a hub- 
bub of joyousness among 1,500 spectators on the 
grounds. 

"Lieutenant Milling had busted the American 
record and was still flying for the world's record 
when a tall, youngish man decked out in a blue 



AEEOPLANE SURPBISES 173 

serge suit, and a gray cap, climbed into the Cur- 
tiss machine driven by Captain Paul Beck of the 
army. 

" 'The Hon. Frank H. Hitchcock, Postmaster- 
Gen 'rul of the whole United States/ the mega- 
phone man began to holler, 'will now fly to Mine- 
ola with Captain Beck to deliver the mail. 
Postmaster-Gen 'rul Hitchcock of the United 
States will carry the mail-bag on his knees and 
drop the bag at Mineola into a circle in which will 
be the Postmaster-Gen 'nil of I mean the Post- 
master of Mineola. Ladies and gentlemen, Post- 
master-Gen 'nil Hitchcock.' (Much applause.) 

"Mr. Hitchcock wasn't around to hear all this 
and so didn't lift his gray cap in acknowledgment. 
He was far out on the field with Attorney-General 
Wickersham and Captain Beck. Post Office In- 
spector Doyle handed the Postmaster-General a 
mail bag containing one thousand, four hundred 
and forty postcards and one hundred and sixty- 
two letters, and Captain Beck and the Postmas- 
ter-General hiked off in a northerly direction for 
the high spots, 

"The Curtiss circled three-quarters of the 
field and then climbed rapidly until it was three 
hundred or four hundred feet above the south end 
of the track. Ovington, who had also got under 
way with a second bag of mail in his monoplane, 
shot up into the same acre of sky occupied by 
Captain Beck and Mr. Hitchcock and shot east- 



174 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

ward as a track finder for Captain Beck's ma- 
chine. 

"The field could see the two machines almost 
all the time during the cross-country flight. The 
way the biplane with a passenger pegged along 
just behind the monoplane with only a pilot 
aboard was a caution. Over a big white circle 
painted on the Mineola real estate, Ovington from 
his monoplane and the Postmaster-General from 
Captain Beck's machine, plumped down to Mine- 
ola the two pouches and hit within the circle in 
each case. 

"The biplane teetered slightly as the mail bag 
was released and then the two machines made a 
circle and spun back to where the crowd stood 
on tiptoe peering over fences at Nassau Boule- 
vard. 

" 'I was up once before,' the Postmaster-Gen- 
eral said after he had shaken hands all around 
upon his return to earth. ' That was at Baltimore 
with Count de Lesseps in his Bleriot. The bi- 
plane to-day I found was much steadier. 

" 'Fly again? I hope so, because I like the ex- 
perience very much. My trip to-day was espe- 
cially enjoyable because at Baltimore I could see 
very little of the ground below, owing to the 
closed-in construction of a monoplane. To-day 
from the biplane all this end of Long Island was 
stretched out to be looked at. 

" 'Yes, air-routes are all right for practical 



AEROPLANE SUEPEISES 175 

mail-carrying/ Mr. Hitchcock continued, in an- 
swer to a question. 'I mean/ he smiled, 'the air 
is all right, but the vehicles must continue toward 
perfection. But even with the aeroplane as it is 
now it would be very useful to us, particularly in 
some parts of the country. 

PKACTICAL VALUE TO-DAY FOR MAIL-CARRYING 

" 'Take along the Colorado Eiver in the canon 
district of Yuma, for instance, or in parts of 
Alaska. Along the Colorado there are places 
where detours of fifty miles out of the way are 
made in mail routes to get to a bridge. An aero- 
plane could hop right across the river. 

" 'The expensiveness of maintaining an aero- 
plane service is an obstacle, but that will dimin- 
ish. I would like to see the Post Office Depart- 
ment do something definite in this direction for 
the good effect it would have in stimulating the 
development of the machine. Fliers at present 
have many lean months between the meets.' " 

Ever since Postmaster-General Hitchcock made 
this trip he has been an enthusiastic advocate of 
the aeroplane as a means of transporting mail 
over difficult routes. During the next few months 
he granted permission to a number of aviators, 
including Ovington, Milling, Arnold, Eobinson, 
Lincoln Beachey, Charles F. Walsh, Beckwith 
Havens, Charles C. Witmer, and Eugene Godet, 
all of whom fly Curtis s machines, to act as special 



176 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

mail carriers, and these men have carried mail 
bags in similar exhibiting tests from aviation 
fields to points near the Post Office. Among the 
cities where such tests have been officially made 
are Eochester, N. Y. ; Dubuque, Iowa ; Fort Smith, 
Ark.; Temple and Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Sa- 
vannah, Columbia, and Eome, Ga.; and Spartan- 
burg and Salisbury, N. C. 

The record for long-distance mail carrying is 
held by Hugh Eobinson, who took a bag of mail 
at Minneapolis, Minn., and carried it on his long 
flight down the Mississippi Eiver in a hydroaero- 
plane as far as Eock Island, 111. The distance 
covered by Eobinson was 375 miles on this trip, 
and letters and first class mail matter were put off 
and taken on at Winona, Minn. ; Prairie du Chien, 
Wis. ; Dubuque and Clinton, Iowa; and Eock Is- 
land, 111. 

Of course the aeroplane is, at present, best 
suited for carrying mail in localities where the 
weather is equable; in such places it offers a 
speedy, direct, and dependable service. These 
numerous experiments in mail-carrying by aero- 
plane have brought about the urging of an appro- 
priation by Congress for this purpose. The 
second Assistant Postmaster-General, who is in 
charge of mail transportation, in a report that has 
just been made public at the time I am writing 
this, asks for $50,000 for the transportation of 
mails by aeroplane. Part of this fund may be 



AEEOPLANE SUEPEISES 177 

devoted to mail routes in the Alaskan interior. 
One government has actively entered on prac- 
tical mail-carrying by aeroplane. Belgium has 
voted a fund to establish routes across seven hun- 
dred miles of impenetrable Congo jungle. 

WIKELESS 

The aeroplane is ideal for use with wireless 
telegraphy and the combination of the aeroplane's 
ability to obtain information and the ability to 
transmit it by wireless will be one of its most im- 
portant future developments in practical useful- 
ness. 

Wireless experiments do not involve any great 
problem, as messages have been successfully 
transmitted from an aeroplane to land stations 
many times. The receiving of a wireless message 
by an operator in an aeroplane from a land sta- 
tion or from a warship involves considerable dif- 
ficulty because of the noise and vibration of the 
motor, but it is expected, however, that this will 
be soon entirely overcome and that it will be pos- 
sible to transmit or receive telegrams in an aero- 
plane to or from distant points with the same 
ease and accuracy that it is now seen on the 
ground or on the water. 

The telegraph seems to be the companion of the 
locomotive, the telephone of the automobile, and 
now wireless has its side-partner in the aero- 
plane ! 



178 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Important experiments are being carried on by 
the signal corps of every army with various 
methods of communication with an aeroplane in 
flight and by the aviator with those on the ground. 
They have tried an instrument for making smoke 
signals, with large and small puffs, reviving a 
method used by the American Indians in the pio- 
neer days and quite familiar to all boys who have 
played Indian in the country. 

FORESTRY SURVEY 

The supervisor of the Selway forest, consist- 
ing of 1,600,000 acres, which was formerly part 
of the Nez Perces reserve in Idaho, predicts that 
aeroplanes and wireless telegraphy will be impor- 
tant factors in forest fire prevention before a far 
distant date. He believes that a man in an aero- 
plane could do more accurate and extensive survey 
work in the forests of the Pacific slope country in 
a few hours when forest fires are raging than is 
usually accomplished by twenty rangers in a 
week. With wireless stations installed on peaks 
in the chief danger zones, he believed it would be 
a comparatively easy task to assemble men and 
apparatus to check and extinguish the flames and 
prevent fires from spreading. 

MOVING PICTURES 

Aeroplanes have already been used for pur- 
poses of photography and moving picture ma- 



AEROPLANE SURPRISES 179 

chines have also been attached to them and some 
remarkable pictures taken. One of the large 
moving picture magnates said, "Now, Mr. Cur- 
tiss, if you can take a series of moving pictures 
showing a trip across the United States, I do not 
care if it takes you a year to get it and even 
though it is taken piecemeal, or one section at a 
time over the main cities on the way, I will pay 
you well for it. We will take the film, trim it 
down, and run it through at lightning speed tak- 
ing our audience from New York to San Fran- 
cisco 'as the bird flies' in twenty minutes." 

The value of moving pictures taken from above 
and from a swift low-flying machine is appar- 
ent at a glance. The contour of the country is 
shown as in no other way, and now that warfare is 
going to have a quite different point of view, even 
a different range of action, it is important that 
schools, and especially military schools, should 
be made familiar with this aspect of the land. 
The flat map is superseded by such a panoramic 
view. In time of actual war, moving pictures 
taken in this way will have a unique value. 

In photographing reviews of troops, public cel- 
ebrations, lines of battleships, or any scenes that 
require a panoramic representation, the aeroplane 
has been used with success. It can also be of 
great service in photographing animals and rare 
birds which may inhabit regions otherwise inac- 
cessible. With the advance of nature study and 



180 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

the steady development of " camera hunting," 
the aeroplane will be used more and more for 
such purposes as well as for photographing moun- 
tain tops and other insurmountable or dangerous 
places to reach. 

Eobert G. Fowler has had some surprisingly 
good motion pictures taken from his machine dur- 
ing his cross-continent flight, by an operator sit- 
ting beside him, his camera placed on a temporary 
stand. 

Mr. Frank W. Coffyn took a most interesting 
series of moving pictures of New York City from 
the water front, portraying the Battery, the 
Brooklyn Bridge, and the famous Statue of Lib- 
erty in the harbour. Mr. CofTyn used a hydro- 
aeroplane for this purpose, which made his 
flights comparatively safe. In fact, such a feat 
would have been well nigh impossible for a ma- 
chine that could not land on the water, for there 
are no places where an aeroplane can land in the 
business section of New York unless the aviator 
should land on one of the large buildings, and 
then he would have great difficulty in getting 
away again. 1 

Great care has to be exercised to keep the ma- 
chine on an even keel, so that the operator can 
manage the roll of film. 

i The first start from a roof-top was made on June 12, 1912, 
when Silas Christoferson in a Curtiss biplane rose from a plat- 
form built on the roof of the Hotel Multuomah, Portland, Ore., 
and flew safely away. AUGUSTUS POST. 



AEROPLANE SURPRISES 181 

LIFE-SAVING 

Another branch of the government service that 
will no doubt be greatly aided by aeroplanes are 
the Life Saving Stations along the coast, whose 
regular equipment might well include an aero- 
plane to fly to wrecks and carry a line from shore 
to ship when the high seas make it impossible to 
launch a lifeboat. It might be impracticable to 
go out during the period of severe storm, but there 
is always a calm in the air after a storm, as well 
as the proverbial calm before one, while the high 
seas in which a lifeboat cannot live are still run- 
ning. The aeroplane or the hydroaeroplane, 
dashing through the air, even through high wind, 
would bring the line that means life to helpless 
men clinging to a wreck. 

I am awaiting with earnest expectation the first 
time that an aeroplane actually saves a life ; when 
that takes place, it will have conquered the heart 
of the people as well as fascinated its intellect, 
aroused its awe, or compelled its admiration. 
The first period of enthusiastic acceptance of the 
new machine has been succeeded in the mind of 
the general non-flying public by an admiration not 
at all like affection. 

Realising how many lives have been given to 
its development, feeling that the aviator takes, as 
they call it, "his life in his hands, " the crowd at 
a flying-meet feels with all its great and growing 



182 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

interest, an attraction in which figures not a little 
fear and distrust. The first time that an aero- 
plane saves a life as it can and will do many 
times it will have begun to conquer this public 
distrust. That is why the exploit of the hydro- 
aeroplane already described, in coming first to the 
aid of the aviator in the water, had a value far 
greater than its apparent importance. 1 

i A very important service was rendered only a short time ago 
by the hydroaeroplane which might easily have served to save a 
human life if the accident had been more serious than it actually 
was. Mr. Hugh Robinson the instructor of the Curtiss hydro- 
aeroplane school was having Sunday dinner at the hotel in Ham- 
mondsport, where Dr. P. L. Alden, one of the well-known physicians 
of that place, was also eating dinner, when the doctor received a 
telephone message that Mr. Edwin Petrie's little son had. fallen 
from the steps of the Urbana Wine Company at Urbana, five miles 
down the lake, and had a compound fracture of his thigh with a 
serious hemorrhage. It was a very serious injury and the little 
fellow was in intense pain, and Mr. Petrie asked the doctor to 
come as quickly as he possibly could. 

Dr. Alden realised the urgency of the situation and knew that 
delay might mean serious results from hemorrhage, so he went 
immediately over to Mr. Robinson and asked if he would take him 
across the lake in the hydroaeroplane right away. Mr. Robinson 
said, "I will be ready in five minutes; just as soon as you can 
get over to the field." 

Dr. Alden got his bandages and instruments and hurried down 
to the shed where Mr. Robinson had already gotten out the hydro ; 
he jumped in and they were off without a moment's delay. They 
covered the five miles in five minutes, at times running on the 
surface of the lake because the wind was blowing so strong; as 
they ran up on the beach the doctor jumped out and hastened to 
his patient. 

The boy was so much interested in the fact that he was the first 



AEROPLANE SURPRISES 183 

EXPLORING AND ESCAPE FROM DANGER 

The aeroplane will find one of its important 
uses not only in taking pictures of inaccessible 
spots, but also in crossing otherwise impassable 
places, especially in times of pressing need when 
fire, earthquake, volcanic eruptions that leave 
beds of molten lava, explosions, pestilences, 
floods, or other devastations occur, and quick as- 
sistance is necessary. 

In engineering and mining matters, the aero- 
plane may be of assistance in exploring the best 
places to locate the route for railroads through 
mountain passes and into such places as " Death 
Valley " where the salt deposits are located. 

TRAVEL 

An important field in the sporting world of avi- 
ation of course will be carrying passengers and 
initiating novices into the mysteries of the air 
lanes and into the pleasures of aerial touring. 

In this delightful method of travel the pano- 
rama below is equal to any of the magnificent 

patient to be treated by a hydroaeroplane doctor, and so fas- 
cinated at hearing Dr. Alden tell about the trip, that he forgot for 
the moment the seriousness of his condition and allowed the doc- 
tor to reduce the fracture without an anesthetic. When all that 
could be done just then had been done, Dr. Alden and Mr. Robin- 
son returned in the hydroaeroplane as rapidly as they had 
come on their errand of humanity, and at last accounts young Mr. 
Petrie was getting well as fast as he could so he could have a ride 
in the hydroaeroplane himself! AUGUSTUS POST. 



184 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

landscapes which may be seen from high moun- 
tains and besides, the view is attended by most 
delicious thrills and sensations, and when a good 
pilot is in control of the machine the passenger is 
sure of a pastime absolutely unequalled for mere 
joy, aside from further use or benefit it may have. 

While travelling over torrid places like deserts 
and arid wastes, as well as burning prairies, the 
aviator can fly high where the air is cool and 
clear and escape the great humidity and the 
deadly alkali dust. 

As for mountain climbing, it will have lost its 
peculiar fascination when the aeroplane will be 
to mountains what the elevator is to high build- 
ings. The landscape has a greater, far greater 
beauty; for an aviator can see a great distance 
over a level plane. At the height of one mile you 
can, theoretically, see ninety-six miles in every 
direction and as you ascend the distance to the 
horizon becomes greater. In hilly country, one 
hill hides another when you look from the ground, 
but when you are high up in the sky, like the eagle, 
the mountains all seem to lose their height and 
appear flat and naturally your view is unob- 
structed. 

At great altitudes the sky becomes very deep 
blue and if you kept going up you would reach a 
point finally where the sky became black and the 
sun appeared like a ball of fire all by itself as a 
candle flame does in the dark. 



AEROPLANE SURPRISES 185 



FOR HEALTH 

In these regions there is no dust in the air to 
diffuse the light and the air is dry and conse- 
quently excellent for persons with lung trouble. 
There is even a possibility that physicians will- 
advise patients suffering from tuberculosis to as- 
cend to these high altitudes, and it is a fact that 
Hubert Latham was threatened with this disease, 
yet enjoyed good health after taking up aviation, 
only to be killed by a wild buffalo, as related. 
Perhaps this is one of those cases I was looking 
for where the aeroplane has saved a life. 

METEOROLOGY 

An aeroplane will bring quick reports of 
changes in the weather. Rapid investigations of 
conditions which exist in the strata of air at vary- 
ing altitudes above the surface of the earth, made 
by the use of flying machines, may lend us mate- 
rial aid in understanding those conditions which 
are closer to earth. 

The study of the weather and meteorological 
conditions becomes of greater and greater im- 
portance as the progress in the science of avia- 
tion advances. The currents of air that are reg- 
ular in their direction of movement, like the trade 
winds, must be mapped and charted, for with the 
aid of a strong wind an aviator can make mar- 
vellous speed, as the speed of the wind is added 



186 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

to the speed of his machine and with an aeroplane 
capable of making one hundred miles an hour a 
favourable wind of fifty miles an hour would in- 
crease the total speed by one half. For the wind 
is now no longer an obstacle to flight, and as I 
have already noted at the beginning of this chap- 
ter, this is one of the most noticeable advance- 
ments in aviation, one that can readily be seen, 
understood, and appreciated even by the uniniti- 
ated. 

THE TENDENCY TOWARD HYDROS 

There is always more or less danger in flying 
over land, and the rougher its surface the more 
difficult and dangerous the matter of landing. 
The safest place and the most uniform surface is 
to be found over the water, and there is much less 
danger to the aviator flying there than over the 
land. The strength of the wind can be easily 
judged by the height of the waves, and squalls 
and puffs can be seen coming so that if they seem 
to be very bad you can come down on the surface 
of the water or skim along very near it with the 
greatest safety, if you are in a hydroaeroplane. 
Eivers will no doubt become the favourite high- 
ways of travel for the airman, as they were once 
the only great avenues for the march of civil- 
isation when the canoe or the rude boat was the 
only vehicle of transportation. This brings us 
naturally to another consideration of the air-land- 
water machine. 



CHAPTER HI 

THE FUTURE OF THE HYDRO 

THE most interesting type of flying machine 
for sport and pleasure is the hydroaero- 
plane, and this is undoubtedly the machine with 
the greatest possibilities for the future. Indeed, 
it opens up an entirely new region of activity, as 
boundless as the ocean itself, and as various as 
the different bodies of water. Built along the 
lines of a motor boat with the addition of aero- 
plane surfaces or horizontal sails, this craft will 
be used for much the same purposes as motor 
boats are now, but in ways immeasurably more 
varied and more effective. 

The boat portion will be made large and com- 
fortable for pleasure trips and will be a veritable 
sportsman's machine which can be run up to a 
dock where it can make an easy landing and be 
tied up when not anchored out from shore. There 
will be a comfortable cabin, with cushioned seats 
for the navigators, and celluloid windows will be 
placed in the planes, so that the view below will 
not be obstructed. It will be handled in heavy 
seas without difficulty. 

With such an air and water craft you can go off 
187 



188 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

hunting or fishing; you can shoot ducks and you 
will not have to wait until Mr. Duck comes by but 
you will be able to reverse the present custom and 
chase him in his native element and overtake him, 
too, as you would a fox on horseback. By rising 
to a good height you can see schools of fish or 
good places on the bottom to cast your lines for 
fishing. 

Inland lakes will be just the place for the water 
machine and even among the mountains the 
surface of lakes will offer ideal places for landing 
and starting, even where the shores are quite out 
of the question for safe flying ground. 

The construction of the hydroaeroplane, while 
keeping on the same general lines of development, 
will adapt itself to the exigencies arising from its 
extended uses. The propeller or propellers will 
be protected from the flying spray which might 
break them for small drops of water are like 
bullets out of a gun when hit by the rapidly re- 
volving blades of the propeller which travel so 
fast that water might just as well be solid matter 
as far as getting out of the way is concerned. 
Spray will chip pieces right out of a wooden pro- 
peller. Propeller blades are now covered with tin 
on the tips for use on the water, and even metal 
blades may be better in some respects for this pur- 
pose. The control and rudders are placed on the 
rear of the long light boat, which extends further 
to the rear to accommodate them. 



THE FUTUEE OF THE HYDRO 189 

The radius of action in the hydroaeroplane is 
now from four hundred to five hundred miles, for 
the machine can carry a barrel of gasoline, or 
fifty-two gallons, and as the engine uses about 
seven gallons an hour this would mean about 
seven hours running at from fifty to sixty miles 
an hour in still air; if the wind were blowing 
twenty-five miles an hour in the direction in which 
the machine was flying it would add two hundred 
and fifty miles to the distance covered in ten 
hours. 

These machines can be equipped with more 
surface and they can be specially built to carry as 
much as two barrels of fuel, which would enable 
them to fly nearly twelve hundred miles if the wind 
were steady. They can also fly in very high winds 
up to almost one hundred miles an hour, which is 
the speed at which some of the higher air currents 
flow, as proved by the flight of balloons. This 
would of course tremendously increase the dis- 
tance covered. All this is possible to-day and it 
seems that the aeroplane has already done every 
thing possible to be done on land. Bleriot 
crossed the English channel, Chavez crossed the 
Alps, and Eodgers crossed the American conti- 
nent, passing over the Rocky Mountains, and mak- 
ing over four thousand miles in the air. 

The only thing now left is to cross the ocean. 
An attempt has been made to cross the Atlantic 
in a dirigible balloon. You all remember how 



190 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

Walter Wellman flew out over the ocean from At- 
lantic City in one of the largest dirigible balloons 
ever constructed here, the "America," remained 
three days in the air, and covered over twelve hun- 
dred miles, even though his motors were running 
only a part of the time. 

He was fortunate enough to be rescued and 
brought back to land by the steamer Trent. And 
nothing daunted, his chief engineer Melville Vani- 
man constructed another large dirigible the 
"Akron," on which he met such an untimely end. 

Another entrant in the world race to cross the 
ocean is Dr. Gans who, with the backing of the 
German government, plans to start in his dirigi- 
ble balloon the "Suchard" from the Island of 
TenerifFe, one of the Azores, to attempt the cross- 
ing of the Southern Atlantic. He will endeavour 
to be the "Columbus of the air" and be wafted 
above the waves by the selfsame winds which al- 
ways blow in that part of the ocean to the West 
Indies, just as the first man to accomplish this 
passage was driven over the surface of the sea 
with his small ships. Such great enterprises bid 
fair to embolden aviators in their aeroplanes to 
try to win the laurels due the first to be success- 
ful. 

Many aeronauts and aviators seem to be fo- 
cussing their minds at the present moment on this 
great problem. It seems always a condition nec- 
essary to precede the accomplishment of any great 



THE FUTURE OF THE HYDRO 191 

thing that popular thought should be centred 
upon it; then some one rises to the occasion and 
the thing is done. There is no doubt that such a 
flight is possible to-day, just as the flight across 
the United States was possible in even the early 
stages of aviation. For the machine and motor 
which actually accomplished this trip were almost 
the same as the very first models ; but it took the 
man to do it. 

It will no doubt necessitate a double machine, 
and will need two pilots, one to relieve the other, 
and possibly several engines to ensure against 
stopping of the motor. Mr. Grahame-White has 
predicted that within twenty years we will be fly- 
ing across the Atlantic in fifteen hours upon reg- 
ular schedule between London and New York. 
Mr. Grahame-White once even went so far as to 
say that the ocean in a few years would only be 
used "to bathe in" but I think he might have 
added "and to fish in," and left us that consola- 
tion ! 

Perhaps, backed by government aid, and with 
the co-operation of their naval vessels, a chain of 
ships could be stretched across the ocean, which 
would make it possible even now to fly with safety 
over the distance between Nova Scotia and Ire- 
land, about two thousand miles. Already, Mr. 
Atwood who flew from St. Louis to New York, and 
Mr. James V. Martin, have seriously planned 
such a trip. Mr. Martin has submitted his plans 



192 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

to the Eoyal Aero Club of England. He pro- 
poses to keep in the track of steamers and to en- 
deavour to secure the most favourable wind con- 
ditions possible. His machine is designed to 
have large floats and five powerful engines. 

Storms pass across the ocean with great 
rapidity and a fifty-mile-an-hour wind would so 
increase the speed of an aeroplane as materially 
to help it on its journey. 

The accomplishment of this great flight over 
the ocean will no doubt mean great things for the 
progress of the world but it also will require fur- 
ther development along the lines of a flying boat, 
where a substantial vessel will be provided, able 
to stand rough sea and yet able to rise and skim 
the surface of the water. 

Following up the success of my new hydroaero- 
plane, I have taken great interest in the idea of a 
flight across the Atlantic Ocean by aeroplane. I 
consider the flight possible, and I am willing to 
undertake the construction of a machine for the 
purpose, provided any of the aviators now con- 
sidering flight wish me to do so. I am not pre- 
pared to give the details of such a machine as 
would be required to make the flight, but I simply 
express the opinion that the feat is possible and 
that under certain conditions I will undertake to 
furnish the equipment. 



CHAPTEE IV 

FUTURE PROBLEMS OF AVIATION 

IN a consideration of the final structure of the 
Coming Aeroplane, we pass into the realm of 
pure prophecy, for the aerial liners and dread- 
naughts of the future are still snug in the brains 
of men like Eudyard Kipling or H. G. Wells. My 
part in the consideration of what is coming is 
here confined to the consideration of the imme- 
diate, or at least the not far distant, future. 

Biplanes will always be the standard machines 
in my opinion, because you can get more support- 
ing surface for the same weight. 

Surfaces may be set one far out in front of the 
other, as Farman has done, but with three surfaces 
the third requires a full set of struts and wires 
and just as much weight as for two ordinary sur- 
faces, and adds only one half more surface, and 
the head resistance is also increased once again. 
Surfaces no doubt will be made larger and ma- 
chines much bigger in every way will be built. 

Telescoping wings may be a feature of the fu- 
ture machines, so that a graduated area of wing 
surface can be readily obtained and changed for 
slow or high speed. 

193 



194 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

The limousine, or enclosed-cabin body, will be 
a familiar sight in the future machines built for 
passenger-carrying. These cabins will be pro- 
vided with comfortable seats. 

AUTOMATIC STABILITY 

In regard to the question of automatic stability, 
or some device to balance the machine automat- 
ically, there seems to be no doubt that this prob- 
lem will be solved ; in fact it is already solved both 
for balancing laterally and keeping the machine 
from tipping sideways and also to govern its fore 
and aft pitching. 

These devices may be of value in learning to 
fly. But in the practical use of the aeroplane 
you may see conditions arising which you wish 
to counteract before they occur and for which 
you wish to prepare. Automatic stabilisers will 
no doubt prove very good auxiliary devices, and 
some aeroplanes will have automatic stabilisers 
on them before this is printed, but the aviator will 
no doubt have to regulate the regulators in the fu- 
ture as he operates the levers personally in the 
present. 

AVIATION LAWS TO COMB 

The making of good laws is not to be overlooked 
when considering the future development of the 
aeroplane, for aviators must be protected from 
themselves, and the public must be protected from 



FUTURE PROBLEMS 195 

the rashness or inexperience of airmen. Almost 
all nations have already begun to exercise control 
over their new territory, the air, and are realising 
that it may become one of their most valued pos- 
sessions and of an importance equal to their do- 
main over water. For a nation without any sea- 
coast may no longer be cut off from direct inter- 
course with the world through the aerial craft 
which can enter and leave at will, as vessels now 
do on the sea, with no chance of a neighbouring 
nation restricting this very freedom. 

Laws are rapidly being passed by states regu- 
lating and licensing aviators and requiring lights 
to be carried, but it seems that the federal govern- 
ment should be the power that should control 
the air just as it does the sea and navigable riv- 
ers. For fliers flit about so that the whole coun- 
try seems but a mere playground for men of the 
air. 

Already the California legislature has made 
several laws to protect the aeroplane and the avia- 
tor, as well as to safeguard the larger public 
that stays on the ground. Some of these laws 
may seem a little premature, but everything about 
aeroplanes goes so fast, that there is no wonder 
the laws instead of lagging behind conditions as 
they usually do, should speed up a little ahead 
of them, for the progress of flight is such that by 
the time the law gets on the statute books the con- 
ditions may be calling for it. For instance, bills 



196 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

have been introduced at Sacramento to regulate 
the licensing of aeroplanes, which are to be classed 
as " motor vehicles," and to carry numbers and 
lights, the same as automobiles. The idea of pro- 
viding for lights seems a little far-fetched at this 
time, as it will be a long time before there will be 
much flying at night. Besides, such lights as the 
proposed law provides would be unnecessary, for 
the reason that the aeroplane would not be con- 
fined to an arbitrary path, but could choose its 
own course. Therefore, a single light in front 
and another behind would be all that would be re- 
quired, instead of one pair in front, one behind 
and one on each plane, as the bill suggests. 

FUTURE COST OF THE AEROPLANE 

The cost of the machine is high at the present 
time because there are but few made. No doubt 
when the great numbers of people who are now 
deeply interested in the subject get to the point of 
practical flight and desire to take flights, they 
will want to own machines, and learn to operate 
them. Then aeroplanes will be made in quantities 
and the price will be reduced in accord with the 
number that are built and some day we will be 
able to buy a good aeroplane for about the price 
we have to pay now for a small automobile. 

Cortlandt Field Bishop is credited with having 
said when some one asked him if the manufacture 
of a cheap aeroplane, to cost $150, including the 



FUTUEE PROBLEMS 197 

motor, would not be a great business undertaking, 
"Well, a great undertaking business should cer- 
tainly come of it." 

LANDING PLACES 

The most serious problem of flying to-day is to 
find a good course to fly over and suitable landing 
places. The day will soon come when every city 
and town will have public landing and starting 
grounds. As a matter of fact the park commis- 
sioners of New York City have already been dis- 
cussing the setting apart of landing places or isles 
of safety in the public parks of the city, although 
some authorities declare that it would not be well 
to encourage fliers to risk themselves and the peo- 
ple below by flying over the houses. There should 
be routes of travel established between cities over 
which an aviator will have a right to fly, just as 
there are highways on the surface of the earth. 

GOVEKNMENT ENCOURAGEMENT 

Perhaps the greatest factor which is needed 
to further the development of the aeroplane to- 
day is the thorough appreciation by the National 
Government of the benefits which the aeroplane 
may bring to its various departments besides the 
military and postal service. 

When railroads first became practical the gov- 
ernment gave millions of dollars besides large 
grants of land to enable them to extend and de- 



198 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

velop to a successful state. Steamship building 
was helped in the same way both by government 
aid and by the building of warships and trans- 
ports. 

The French Government continues to lead the 
world in its encouragement of aviation. During 
the month of December, 1911, according to most 
reliable statistics, the War Department ordered 
no less than four hundred new aeroplanes, divided 
between a dozen or more types, and asked the gov- 
ernment to appropriate the sum of $4,400,000 for 
aeronautics. Italy, next to France, is the most 
active European government in aviation, the Ital- 
ian War Department having ordered fifty French 
machines of various types, as well as twelve aero- 
planes of a new type produced in Austria. The 
Turkish government has decided to establish 
schools for the "fourth arm" immediately, while 
Eussia will also increase its aviation programme. 
The latest government to take up aviation is that 
of Australia, where an aviation school is about to 
open for the instruction of army officers. Ger- 
many is not as active in aviation as the other 
principal European governments, although it is 
difficult to say exactly what is being done by the 
Germans, as they purchase machines made in 
their own country only. 

A most interesting programme was arranged by 
the British military authorities for the trial of 
machines in competition in the summer of 1912, at 



FUTURE PROBLEMS 199 

Salisbury Plain, in order to determine the best 
types of military aeroplane. The winning types 
in this contest will receive large orders from the 
British government to supply the Army and Navy 
with aerial equipment. 

FIRST AVIATION REGIMENT 
(Newspaper Despatch) 

PARIS, Jan. 25, 1912. The first aviation regiment, 327 
strong, was organised here to-day. 
A flag will be presented to the battalion later on. 

Having already organised an aviation regi- 
ment, French army officers are now agitating the 
question upon the basis of having no less than a 
thousand aeroplanes ready at a moment's notice 
under the command of superior officers and under 
perfect control of army pilots trained to handle 
them. This training of officers is the most im- 
portant part, for it takes time to make good fliers. 
Machines may be turned out very rapidly, but 
fliers become skilled to the point where they may 
be of use in army work only by long practice and 
practical experience. Our government has given 
an appropriation, small in comparison with what 
France, Germany and England appropriated, and 
we have a few aeroplanes in the signal corps of 
the Army now and three machines in the Navy, 
but these are only the first steps in this important 
branch of our military and naval development. 
We all hope for at least adequate equipment, an 



200 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

equipment that will equal, if not surpass, that of 
the European powers. 

After the development of the aeroplane for 
sport and commercial purposes, its greatest field 
of growth is for purposes of war and here we find 
that the aeroplane can be at once the most deadly 
weapon of offensive warfare as yet developed by 
man, and an even more serviceable agent for de- 
fensive measures, or for all those most important 
duties related to scouting and obtaining and carry- 
ing information. 

WHAT THE AEROPLANE CAN DO IN WAR 

I feel confident that an aeroplane can be even 
now built which will be able to lift a ton of dyna- 
mite or other high explosive, and that it can be so 
constructed that it will be an aerial torpedo or 
winged projectile, the engine charged with com- 
pressed air and set to run any required distance, 
from one mile to ten miles. Such a machine can 
be steered by wireless controlling apparatus just 
as submarine boats and small airships are di- 
rected. 

A hydroaeroplane can be made to fly at just a 
certain height over the water by attaching it to a 
drag or a float which would prevent its exceeding 
the desired limit of altitude. The machine so 
equipped might be started in a circle and flown 
around in a circular course gradually widening 



FUTUEE PEOBLEMS 201 

and widening, like a bird dog hunting a scent, until 
the object aimed at is hit. 

One of the most important uses of an aeroplane 
adapted to the uses of the Navy will be its valua- 
ble assistance in enabling the manner of forma- 
tion of the enemy's ships in line of battle to be 
made known to the commanding officer and the 
angle of approach to be estimated, in order that 
our own ships may be so formed in line of battle 
as to meet the brunt of the attack effectually. 

An aeroplane launched from the deck of a bat- 
tleship and ascending to the height of a mile will 
give the observers on board a range of vision of 
ninety-six miles in every direction and powerful 
glasses will reveal many details that can be seen 
more clearly from above than when observed from 
the same level. Submarines can be located with 
great ease when far below the surface of the wa- 
ter. Even the bottom appears clearly in some 
of the tropic seas, and fogs, which obscure all 
things to the enveloped mariner bound to the sur- 
face of the sea, usually hang comparatively low 
down and even a moderate altitude will enable 
an aerial observer or pilot to see clearly above the 
banks of mist which shut down like a pall upon 
the water. 

The military aeroplane will be able to muffle its 
motor and for night operations will be equipped 
with search-lights and able to approach an enemy 



202 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

unseen and unheard from a high altitude, a direc- 
tion in which there are no pickets. 

In the school machines of one of the Chicago 
schools the motors have already been muffled to 
permit the teacher more readily giving his in- 
structions to his pupils. U. S. Army officers have 
also experimented with mufflers on their motors. 

Aeroplanes have been recently used by the Ital- 
ian Army near Tripoli and bombs were dropped 
which not only frightened the enemy but stam- 
peded their horses and caused panic among the 
soldiers. They were also of great service in di- 
recting the fire of the guns from the ships which 
were quite out of sight of their targets, a captive 
balloon and an aeroplane signalling the effect of 
the shots and the angles at which to train the guns. 
The aviators took steel bomb-shells with them and 
filled them while flying, holding the caps in their 
teeth, and steering with their knees while per- 
forming this operation. They did not dare to 
carry the bombs loaded for fear of being blown 
to pieces themselves in case of an accident when 
landing. 

In the fall of 1911, extensive tests were made 
by the French military authorities which showed 
how reliable aeroplanes can be. The aviators flew 
at the command of officers and under the strictest 
orders; the machines were required to land in 
ploughed fields and to start away again with their 
full complement of passengers and extra weight 



FUTUEE PROBLEMS 203 

of fuel. All the machines were required to carry 
a weight of about five hundred pounds and to rise 
to a certain height in a specified time with their 
complete load. The machines were also dis- 
mounted and assembled in the field and packed 
and transported from one place to another, to 
test the ease with which this could be done. 

These military tests were won by Charles Wey- 
mann, who was also the winner of the Gordon 
Bennett International Aviation Cup for America 
last year. 

Mr. Weymann drove a special Nieuport ma- 
chine, which was the most speedy type of aero- 
plane built at that time, and was successful in 
landing and starting from a ploughed field, which 
many thought impossible for a very fast type of 
machine. It took the greatest skill to land such 
a speedy machine on rough ground, for he had to 
glide down with absolute accuracy, to land with- 
out a smash. 

Among Army officers the keenest competition is 
developed, and it is only by a spirit of rivalry 
and a desire to excel that the best qualities in offi- 
cers and men are brought out in times of peace. 
Of course in time of war there is a need which 
calls for the best there is in a man. 

The needs of the Army and Navy aviators have 
developed some special features in machines built 
for their purposes. They want to be as far out in 
front of the machine as possible so they can have 



204 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

an unobstructed view, and so that if they should 
be so unfortunate as to be pitched out, they will 
be quite clear of everything. This is especially 
true of naval machines built to fly over the water. 
Military aeroplanes also should have a standard 
method of control, so that any Army or Navy avi- 
ator can operate any Army or Navy machine. 



CHAPTEE V 

THE AEROPLANE AS APPLIED TO THE ARMY 
(By Captain Paul W. Beck, U. S. A.) 1 

WHENEVEE science discovers anything 
new or startling, such discovery is imme- 
diately tested by practical men of commercial or 
professional life to ascertain whether or not it 
can be applied to their business or profession. 
In civil life these tests are to determine whether 
or not this new discovery can be applied to 
cheapen production or benefit mankind in any 
other way. In the Army two tests are always 
applied: first, to determine whether or not the 
discovery can be used to kill the other fellow and, 
second, to determine whether or not it can be used 
to prevent the other fellow from killing us. 
These are the tests which have been applied to 
the aeroplane by the military. Let us see how 
these heavier-than-air machines have responded 
to these tests. 

Can aeroplanes be used to kill the other fellow? 

iln July, 1912j Captain Beck was granted by the War De- 
partment the title of "Military Aviator"; the first time that any 
American has been given this title, which implies finished skill 
in both aviation and military tactics, and for which all the army 
aviators are to qualify. AUGUSTUS POST. 

205 



206 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

Our problem here is not ethical but practical; it 
is not based on the determinations of the Hague 
peace convention, but upon the actual capabilities 
of the machine from a physical standpoint, con- 
sidered apart from humanitarian principles. In 
other words we do not discuss whether or not it 
is ethically right to use aeroplanes aggressively, 
but whether or not aeroplanes are mechanically 
capable of such use. The Army does not disturb 
itself with ethical questions until they become 
rules of International Law, and then it only con- 
siders them as being binding in their actual ob- 
servance under the conditions imposed by such 
law. Meanwhile the Army, by preparation in 
time of peace, seeks to gain the fullest possible 
measure of information along the lines of investi- 
gation necessitated by the mechanical side of the 
question. 

Considered from this standpoint, the question 
is repeated: can aeroplanes be used to kill the 
other fellow? Well, where may we expect to meet 
this other fellow? He will be armed, of course. 
He will be on the ground, on the water, or in the 
air. Wherever he may be we must get close 
enough to see him, while we must remain far 
enough away to keep him from having a decidedly 
better chance of hitting us than we have of hit- 
ting him. If he is on the ground or on the water 
we must fly over him. If he is in the air we must 
manoeuvre our air craft so as to gain an advan- 



AEMY AVIATION 207 

tageous position over him ; one where we can shoot 
our machine guns or rifles while he is unable to 
use his similar weapons against us. That is 
where skill as an aviator and superiority of speed, 
climbing powers, and control of the machine will 
play a prominent part in deciding the supremacy 
of the air. 

From the standpoint of the location of the en- 
emy the problem can be reduced to two cases : one, 
when the enemy is on the ground or on the water, 
and the other when he is in the air. Against him 
in the first case we must use projectiles dropped 
from on high. These may be shrapnel, explosive 
shells or simply large, thinly encased masses of 
high explosive, depending on whether we are at- 
tacking individuals or animals in groups ; gun em- 
placements, bridges, etc., or important strategical 
or tactical points such as arsenals, barracks, or 
parts of a defensive line. 

Against the enemy in the skies we must use 
some small machine gun or rifle, in an endeavour 
to brush him aside and allow our own informa- 
tion-gathering aeroplanes to perform their func- 
tions unmolested. 

But we are not progressing. Can aeroplanes 
be used to kill the other fellow? Well, assuming 
him to be located as we have assumed him to be, 
there are several other questions which must be 
answered before we can clinch the main issue. 
Can a man act as aviator and at the same time 



208 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

manipulate the mechanism that may be found 
necessary to the killing of the other fellow? If 
not, can an aeroplane be built that will carry at 
least two men, one as aviator and the other as 
manipulator of the death-dealing apparatus, and, 
at the same time, carry enough extra weight, i. e., 
fuel, to keep aloft long enough to accomplish the 
necessary flight and also carry the projectiles and 
dropping device? Yes. The two passengers 
may be estimated to weigh three hundred pounds. 
The dropping device may be estimated to weigh 
not to exceed fifty pounds. At least three known 
types of aeroplane carry six hundred and fifty 
pounds of weight for a continuous flight of two 
hundred miles in length. That leaves two hun- 
dred and fifty pounds that can be devoted to the 
carrying of projectiles. 

So far the coast seems clear, but a small storm 
appears in the offing; can this two hundred and 
fifty pounds, or any considerable part of it, be 
dropped from a moving aeroplane without dis- 
turbing its equilibrium to such an extent as to 
render the machine unmanageable? Any weight 
can be dropped from the centre of lift without 
disturbing the equilibrium. Thirty-eight pounds 
have been dropped from one machine from a point 
three feet in front of the centre of lift without dis- 
turbing the equilibrium. 

Admitting that the necessary weight can be 
carried and can be dropped, we next encounter 



AEMY AVIATION 209 

the highly important question, what can we hit 
from a height of, say, three thousand five hundred 
feet? At this point the problem becomes one 
of pure fire control, and is directly analogous to 
target practice in our sea-coast defences. Since 
the aeroplane is moving forward at a definite rate 
of speed at the instant of dropping the projectile, 
it follows that there is an initial velocity given to 
the projectile. This velocity is dependent upon 
the forward speed of the machine and varies with 
it. Gravity exerts an influence on the drop of the 
projectile, which influence increases the speed of 
drop as the altitude from which the shell is 
dropped increases. The direction and force of 
the wind currents through which the projectile 
must fall are variable and they all exert influences 
tending to cause the projectile to swerve from its 
original course to a degree dependent upon their 
strength and the thickness of each stratum of air. 
The size of the target and, if it be animals or men, 
the direction and rate of movement of the target, 
are all factors to a successful hit. 

Practice has shown us that the principal factors 
are the forward speed of the machine and the alti- 
tude. The variations due to wind currents 
through which. the projectile must pass in falling 
are negligible. The only targets to be chosen will 
be sufficiently large and immobile to warrant an 
assumption that they can be hit. Aerial target 
practice will never degenerate to the sniping of in- 



210 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

dividuals. It will be directed against ships, small 
boats, armies, cavalry, quartermaster and field ar- 
tillery trains and similar large bodies of men or 
animals, or against the strategical and tactical 
points alluded to above. 

The problem then simmers itself down to a more 
or less accurate solution of a method for deter- 
mining the forward speed of the machine and its 
altitude, which, with a suitable set of tables and 
suitable mechanical devices for releasing the pro- 
jectile at the proper instant, will produce a rea- 
sonably good target practice. 

For some time the solution of the forward speed 
of an aeroplane seemed impracticable. It has 
now been solved by the simple use of a telescope, 
mounted on a gimbal so as to maintain its hori- 
zontal position and movable vertically along a 
graduated arc. By setting the telescope to read 
an angle of forty-five degrees and snapping a 
stop watch on an object which lies in the line of 
sight of the telescope produced, and then swing- 
ing the telescope so as to point vertically down- 
ward, we can, by snapping the stop watch a sec- 
ond time as the sighting point again comes into 
the field of vision, ascertain the exact time it has 
taken the machine to cover the distance measured 
by forty-five degrees of arc. Our altitude is 
known by reading a barometer. We then have 
two known angles of a right triangle and one 
known side, viz., the altitude. By a set of tables, 



AEMY AVIATION 211 

already made out, we can determine our forward 
speed. 

Now, all of this is done as a preliminary to 
actually dropping the projectile. After we have 
the forward speed and the altitude we simply con- 
sult another set of previously prepared tables and 
read from those tables an angle. This angle shows 
the proper point of drop to hit another point on 
the ground somewhere in advance of the aero- 
plane. After picking the angle out of the table 
we set our telescope to read the known angle and, 
when the line of sight, produced, is on the object- 
ive, we release or "trip" the projectile. This has 
actually been done. Now I ask you the question, 
can an aeroplane be used to kill the other fellow? 

Can an aeroplane be used to prevent the other 
fellow from killing us? Of course it is much su- 
perior to Santa Ana's mule for purposes of rapid 
departure from the scene of hostilities, but that 
is hardly the test we apply. It is, on the other 
hand, inferior as a shield to the ordinary breast- 
works constructed by armies in the field, but, 
again, that is not precisely the test to be applied. 

The most effective way in which we can keep 
the other fellow from killing us is to find out where 
he is, what he is doing and how he proposes to 
accomplish his to us reprehensible, to him laud- 
able object. Accordingly we apply the informa- 
tion test to the aeroplane. Can we use it to gather 



212 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

information of the enemy, his lines of communi- 
cation, his lines of defences, his probable lines of 
advance or retreat, his rail and water communi- 
cations, his artillery positions and gun emplace- 
ments, and a host of other things, all of which 
tend to produce success or failure in battle? In 
other words, can we use the aeroplane to prevent 
the enemy from killing us? 

In order to make use of information there are 
two distinct steps which must be taken: First, it 
must be gathered; second, it must be communi- 
cated to the proper officers for transmission to 
the Commanding General in the field. No infor- 
mation is of value until it is communicated to an 
officer competent to act upon it. 

This problem of information is then divided into 
two parts : the getting, and the transmitting. In 
getting information we must at once settle just 
how far the aeroplane will be available. There 
is a certain class of information, i. e., that concern- 
ing the road beds over which an army must move, 
the fords it must cross, the bridges it must travel 
over, the hills and valleys that might afford shel- 
ter for an offensive force or may be used de- 
fensively, the location, extent, thickness and 
amount of underbrush in woods, and much other, 
intimate, local knowledge that is of great and in- 
dispensable value to a commanding officer in the 
field. Such information can be gathered only 
from the ground. An aeroplane could be of use 



AEMY AVIATION 213 

in such gathering only as a means for transport- 
ing the topographical sketchers quickly from point 
to point, allowing them sufficient time to do their 
work before again taking the air. Also an aero- 
plane would be of but little use in locating small 
bodies of the enemy. 

Where the aeroplane would begin to be of use, 
however, is in the locating of the main body of the 
enemy, his defences, his artillery positions, in de- 
termining the outline of his position, the natural 
or artificial boundaries which cover and protect 
his flanks, his main arteries of supply, the strong 
and weak points of his line of defence, etc. 

To accomplish these results the aeroplane must 
fly at a sufficient elevation to render difficult the 
hitting of a vital part of the machine or the avia- 
tor by hostile rifle or artillery fire. While the 
modern rifle in use in our army will fire a ball 
about three thousand five hundred yards straight 
in the air, it is generally accepted among aviators 
that an aeroplane would be practically safe, save 
from a chance shot, at three thousand five hundred 
feet. Of course there is a large chance that if 
enough rifles are directed at an aeroplane for a 
long enough time the machine or operator would 
be hit, at this altitude, but war is not a game of 
croquet, and the men who would man these ma- 
chines in war would stand ready to take the risks 
demanded by the exigencies of the service. 

The proper machine to act as a gatherer of in- 



214 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

formation is one that can carry a pilot, passenger, 
and wireless outfit. It is proposed to equip all 
information-gathering machines with wireless 
and to this end a special set has been devised and 
is being tested out at the U. S. Army Signal Corps 
Aviation School. That the wireless will be a suc- 
cess there is no doubt, for certain simple experi- 
ments with crude apparatus have been already 
tried out with remarkable success. 

I have said that military aviators propose to 
fly at about three thousand five hundred feet while 
seeking information. Perhaps this will be in- 
creased to about five thousand feet if it can be 
demonstrated that the reconnaissance officer can 
clearly discern, from that height, the points which 
are of military value. This officer will be aided 
by powerful field glasses, a camera and sketching 
case, and he will have at hand a wireless outfit 
which he can use in sending back whatever he may 
ascertain of value. Upon reporting back to the 
officer who sent him out he will turn over his 
sketches and photographs. It is thought that in 
this way very complete and valuable data will be 
available. 

From an aeroplane or balloon the ground pre- 
sents a very different appearance than it does 
from our usual man's eye view. It takes time and 
practice to determine just what the different 
strange-looking objects are, let alone to determine 
relative sizes and distances. On this account we 



ARMY AVIATION 215 

have concluded that the reconnaissance officer and 
pilot must both be trained at the same time. 
Since this is the case and since there is a decided 
mental and physical strain connected with long- 
continued flight, we have gone further and con- 
cluded that both officers who fly in the aeroplane 
must be pilots and both must be trained in recon- 
naissance duty. In this way each can relieve or 
"spell" the other. 

There is much more to this than the mere act- 
ing as an aerial chauffeur. To be a successful 
military aviator a man must be an excellent cross- 
country flier. He must be an expert topogra- 
pher or sketcher, he must understand photography 
and he must be a practical wireless operator, 
as well as have a knowledge of the theory of 
wireless. Above all, he must be trained in mili- 
tary art, that most elusive of all subjects. By 
that we mean that he must understand the mili- 
tary significance of what he sees, he must under- 
stand the powers, limitations, and functions of the 
three great arms infantry, cavalry, and field ar- 
tillery, whether used in combination or sepa- 
rately; he must know major and minor tactics to 
determine the worth or uselessness of a position; 
he must be able quickly and accurately to reduce 
his observations to a written report in order that 
the information gained may be of immediate use 
to his chief. 

For all of these reasons we have concluded that 



216 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

we must rely on commissioned officers of the regu- 
lar army or organised militia, trained in time of 
peace to fulfil their functions in time of war. We 
can not place dependence on civilian aviators, for 
they have not had the training along the highly 
technical and specialised lines that are necessary. 
We can not rely on enlisted men of the army, for 
the same reason. 

There is another class of fliers that will, un- 
doubtedly, be of use in war time. These are the 
men to drive fast-flying, single-passenger ma- 
chines for speedy messenger service between de- 
tached bodies of troops, or to drive the heavy am- 
munition or food-carrying aeroplanes to relieve 
a besieged place. These may well be chosen from 
the ranks of the civilian volunteers who would, 
without doubt, flock to our colours and standards 
at the whistle of a hostile bullet. There is plenty 
of room in war time for all of the aviators we can 
scrape together, be they civilian or military. 

Two new types of aeroplane have been alluded 
to in the last, preceding paragraph; the fast-fly- 
ing, quick-climbing racer and the slow-going, 
heavy-weight carrier. We are of opinion that 
there should be three types in all for military 
purposes. Of greatest importance and in great- 
est numbers we should have the middle-class ma- 
chines; those capable of staying in the air for 
at least three hours of continuous flight, while 
carrying two men and one hundred and fifty 



ABMY AVIATION 217 

pounds extra, of either wireless apparatus or ma- 
chine gun and ammunition. Such a machine will 
climb two thousand feet in ten minutes, will travel 
above fifty miles an hour on the level, is perfectly 
easy to manage, and forms the back-bone of the 
aerial fleet. 

One of these craft acting as a convoy, armed 
with a Benet-Mercier machine gun weighing about 
twenty pounds and with ample ammunition, could 
sweep the skies clean of hostile aeroplanes, while 
its mate, carrying reconnaissance apparatus and 
two officers, could gather the information which 
the Commanding General desires. The speed ma- 
chine is for use as described above. The weight- 
carrying machine can carry about six thousand 
rounds of ammunition at a trip. Eifle cartridges 
weigh about one hundred pounds per twelve hun- 
dred rounds. This machine could carry enough 
emergency rations on one trip to subsist five hun- 
dred men for a day. It could make a speed of 
forty miles per hour with this weight and, in the 
course of a day, could, undoubtedly, make several 
trips of succour, provided the sending point were 
within fifty miles of the besieged place which is 
the usual case. 

And now, can an aeroplane be used to prevent 
the other fellow from killing us 1 

This is a very fascinating subject as a whole. 
The field opened is almost limitless; but the 
greatest idea of all is that through this conquest 



218 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

of the air we are approaching more nearly to that 
much longed-for era of universal peace. Through 
the aeroplane and dirigible, man is effacing arti- 
ficial barriers ; he is bringing the rich closer to the 
poor, the powerful closer to the weak. No longer 
can unwise and selfish potentates, be they royal, 
democratic, or financial, send forth their armies 
to fight while themselves resting safe and secure 
at home. The king in his palace or the money 
baron on his private yacht is in as much danger 
from these air craft as is the high private in the 
muddy trenches at the front. That touches the 
selfish side of things. At any rate, while the aer- 
oplane will, probably, do more to promote peace 
than has any previous discovery, we of the Army 
are still busily engaged in finding out just what 
it will do in war. 



CHAPTEE VI 

THE AEROPLANE FOR THE NAVY 

(With an Account of the Training Camp at San Diego. By Lieu- 
tenant Theodore G. Ellyson, U. S. N.) 

THE first active interest of the Navy Depart- 
ment in the practical side of aviation may 
be said to date from November, 1910, when Glenn 
H. Curtiss offered to instruct one officer in the 
care and operation of his type of aeroplane. 
Prior to this date the Department had carefully 
followed the development of the different types 
of aeroplanes, but had taken no steps toward hav- 
ing any one instructed in practical flying, as at 
that time there was no aeroplane considered suit- 
able for naval purposes. Again, shortage of of- 
ficers and lack of funds for carrying along such 
instruction were reasons for the delay in taking 
the initial step. There were unofficial rumours 
to the effect that there would be an aviation corps 
organised, and it was understood that requests 
for such duty would be considered, but it was 
looked upon as an event that would take place in 
the dim future. At this time Mr. Curtiss made 
his offer to instruct an officer at his flying field 
which was to be located in southern California, 

219 



220 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

and, as it was understood that lie had in view the 
development, during the winter, of a machine 
that could be operated from either the land or the 
water, his offer was immediately accepted by the 
Navy Department, and I was fortunate enough 
to be detailed for this duty. 

The training camp was located on North Island, 
opposite San Diego, California, this spot having 
been selected on account of the prevailing good 
weather, and because there was both a good fly- 
ing field for the instruction of beginners, and a 
sheltered arm of San Diego Bay, called The 
Spanish Bight, for carrying on the hydroaero- 
plane experiments. The camp was opened on 
January 17, 1911, and shortly thereafter seven 
pupils were on hand for training, three army of- 
ficers, one naval officer and three civilians. 

What was accomplished there is now history, 
namely the development of a machine that could 
rise from, or land on, either the land or the wa- 
ter, a feat that had never before been accom- 
plished. It is true that one man had been able 
to rise from the water ; but in attempting to land 
on the same he had wrecked his machine, so this 
could not be called a successful experiment. This 
same machine which had risen from the water and 
landed on the land and then risen from the land 
and landed on the water, was flown from the avi- 
ation field to the U. S. S. Pennsylvania by Mr. 
Curtiss, a landing made alongside and the aero- 



NAVY AVIATION 221 

plane hoisted on board with one of the regular 
boat cranes. No preparations had to be made ex- 
cept to fit a sling over the engine section of the 
aeroplane so that it could be hooked on the boat 
crane. The aeroplane was then hoisted over the 
side and flown back to the aviation field. 

As I have said, the above paragraph is now 
history. What is not generally known is the hard 
work and the many disappointments encountered 
before the hydroaeroplane was a real success. 
Mr. Curtiss had two objects in view: First, the 
development of the hydroaeroplane, and secondly, 
the personal instruction of his pupils. The lat- 
ter was accomplished early in the morning and 
late in the afternoon as these were the only times 
when the wind conditions were suitable, and the 
experimental work was carried on during the rest 
of the day, and, I think, Mr. Curtiss also worked 
the best part of the remainder of the time, as I 
well remember one important change that was 
made as the result of an idea that occurred to 
him while he was shaving. No less than fifty 
changes were made from the original idea, and 
those of us who did not then know Mr. Curtiss 
well, wondered that he did not give up in despair. 
Since that time we have learned that anything 
that he says he can do, he always accomplishes, 
as he always works the problem out in his mind 
before making any statement. 

All of us who were learning to fly were also 



222 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

interested in the construction of the machines, 
and when not running "Lizzy" (our practice 
machine) up and down the field, felt honoured at 
being allowed to help work on the experimental 
machine. You see it was not Curtiss, the genius 
and inventor, whom we knew. It was "G. H.," 
a comrade and chum, who made us feel that we 
were all working together, and that our ideas and 
advice were really of some value. It was never 
a case of "do this" or "do that," to his amateur 
or to his regular mechanics, but always, "What 
do you think of making this change?" He was 
always willing to listen to any argument but gen- 
erally managed to convince you that his plan was 
the best. I could write volumes on Curtiss, the 
man, but fear that I am wandering from the sub- 
ject in hand. 

One of the results of the experiments at San 
Diego, was to show that such a hydroaeroplane, 
or a development of it, was thoroughly suitable 
for naval use. Although it was the first of May 
before Mr. Curtiss returned to his factory at 
Hammondsport, specifications, which were ap- 
proximately as follows, were sent him and he 
was asked if he could make delivery by the first 
of July :- 

"A hydroaeroplane, capable of rising from or 
landing on either the land or the water, capable 
of attaining a speed of at least fifty-five miles an 
hour, with a fuel supply for four hours ' flight. To 



NAVY AVIATION 223 

carry two people and be so fitted that either per- 
son could control the machine. " 

His reply was in the affirmative and the ma- 
chine was delivered on time. Since that time this 
machine has been launched from a cable, which 
can easily be used aboard ship, and has been 
flown on an overwater nonstop flight, one hundred 
and forty-five miles in one hundred and forty- 
seven minutes. If such an advance has been made 
in a little over six months' time, what will the 
next year bring forth? 

In my opinion the aeroplane will be used by 
the Navy solely for scouting purposes, and not 
as an offensive weapon as seems to be the popular 
impression. This impression is probably en- 
hanced by the recent newspaper reports of the 
damage inflicted upon the Turks in Tripoli, by 
bombs dropped from Italian aeroplanes. Even 
could an explosive weighing as much as one thou- 
sand pounds be carried and suddenly dropped 
without upsetting the stability of the aeroplane, 
and were it possible to drop this on a ship from a 
height of three thousand feet, which is the lowest 
altitude that would ensure safety from the ship's 
gun fire, but little damage would be done. The 
modern battleship is subdivided into many sepa- 
rate water-tight compartments, and the worst 
that would be done would be to pierce one of 
these, and destroy those in that one compartment, 
without seriously crippling the gunfire or ma- 



224 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

noeuvring qualities of the ship. In only one way 
do I see that the aeroplane can be used as an of- 
fensive weapon, and that is when on blockade 
duty, with the idea of capturing the port, ships 
out of range of the land batteries could send out 
machines with fire bombs and perhaps set fire to 
the port. 

Innumerable instances could be cited where the 
use of an aeroplane for scouting purposes would 
have been invaluable. In recent times may be 
cited the blockade of Port Arthur during the 
Eusso-Japanese War, and the blockade of Santi- 
ago, during the Spanish- American War. 

Again suppose that several scouts were on the 
lookout for an enemy's fleet, and that they sighted 
the enemy's smoke. It has been proven that by 
modern scouting methods it is next to impossible 
for an enemy to start for any of several destina- 
tions, no matter how many miles apart, and not 
be discovered by the opponent's scouts before 
reaching their destination. The enemy's main 
strength, or battleships, will be covered by a 
screen, that is cruisers and torpedo boat destroy- 
ers, spread out many miles from the main body, 
whose duty it is to prevent our scouts from get- 
ting near enough to obtain any information. In 
order to obtain the necessary information our 
scouts would have to pierce this screen, and the 
chances are very great that they would be sunk 
in the attempt, or so crippled that they would be 




ELLYSON LAUNCHES HYDRO FROM WIRE CABLE 
(A) The start. (B) Leaving the wire 







HUGH ROBINSON'S HYDRO FLIGHT DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI 



NAVY AVIATION 225 

unable to convey the information to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief. In any event, why run such a 
risk? If equipped with aeroplanes it would be 
an easy matter to send them out, and the infor- 
mation would be obtained in a much shorter time, 
without danger of the loss of a ship, and with the 
surety that the information would be secured. 
In this connection it must be remembered that 
there is nothing to obscure the vision at sea, that 
the range of vision from a height of three thou- 
sand feet is approximately forty miles, and that 
the wind conditions are always better than over 
land ; that is, steady. These are simply a few in- 
stances of the value that an aeroplane may be to 
the Navy. 

In my opinion, the ideal aeroplane for naval 
use should have the following characteristics: 
The greatest possible speed, while carrying two 
people and fuel supply for at least four hours' 
flight (not under sixty miles an hour speed, as 
this has already been accomplished), and, at the 
same time, capability of being easily handled in a 
thirty-mile wind. There are many machines for 
which this quality is claimed, but few that have 
really proved it. Double control so that either 
person can operate the machine. Ability to be 
launched from shipboard, without first lowering 
into the water, as on many occasions the wind at 
sea will be suitable for flying, whereas the sea 
will be too rough to rise from. Ability to land on 



226 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

rough water. The engine to be fitted with a self- 
starter. Also that the engine be muffled and the 
machine fitted with a sling for hoisting on board 
ship by means of a crane, and so constructed that 
it can be easily taken apart for stowage, and 
quickly assembled. 

A search-light for making landings at night, 
and an efficient wireless apparatus, should also 
form part of the full equipment. 

I did not make one of the requirements that 
the aeroplane be able to rise from the water, for 
in actual service it could always be launched from 
the ship. For practice work and for instruc- 
tional purposes, it must be so fitted, but this could 
be a different rig if necessary. In the near fu- 
ture I predict that the aeroplane adopted for 
naval purposes will operate from a ship as a base 
and the great part of the instructional work will 
be done in the hydroaeroplane on account of the 
large factor of safety. 



CHAPTEE VII 

GLIDING AND CYCLE- SAILING A FUTURE SPORT FOR 
BOYS, THE AIRMEN OF TO-MORROW 

(By Augustus Post.) 

THEEE is great popular interest in the prob- 
lem of soaring, or flying as birds do, with- 
out any apparent effort, and also in gliding 
flights, or descending from a high altitude with- 
out the help of a motor. 

Wonderful keenness of feeling on the part of 
an aviator, akin to that remarkable sensitiveness 
which is exhibited by all blind people, may be 
highly developed for an aviator is just like a 
blind person in the air as far as concerns seeing 
the eddies, gusts, and currents, which are so dan- 
gerous to the balance of the machine but the 
ability to advance and go ahead against the wind 
is as far off as the wireless transmission of power 
is to-day. It is necessary to have an up-current 
of air to enable a machine to soar and it is neces- 
sary to find where these upward blowing currents 
are. Any bicycle can coast down hill and a 
glider is only a coasting aeroplane, and it may 
be as difficult to find the right air current as to 
find a hill to coast down on a bicycle. 

227 



228 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

Great advances will be made in the art of avia- 
tion along the lines of training men in the art of 
handling an aeroplane. No opportunity is so 
good for this purpose as handling the machine as 
a glider with the motor shut off, or by practise 
with a regular gliding machine. Boys will natu- 
rally take to gliding, and as a glider was the first 
form of flying-machine and the easiest to build 
mechanically, there is every reason why sailing or 
soaring flights should be thoroughly mastered. 
The instinct which birds have which enables 
them to seek out and to utilise the rising currents 
of air in the wind and so to set and adjust their 
wings as to enable them to take advantage of 
these rising currents, is latent in the human mind 
and can be developed by practice to a point far 
exceeding that of birds, on account of man's su- 
perior intelligence. It is quite possible that some 
arrangement may be made by which an aviator 
can see the air and can prepare for or escape con- 
ditions that are not favourable to his manoauvres. 
It is clear that the wind gusts, swirls, and turbu- 
lences exist in the air, for they are quite evident 
when we watch a snowstorm and can see the snow- 
flakes as they float, impelled now in one direction, 
now another, or as we see dry leaves carried about 
by a sudden gust of wind, or, even more clearly 
when over sandy plains we can see the great col- 
umns of dust ascending in the center of whirl- 
winds for hundreds of feet, carrying heavy parti- 



GLIDING 229 

cles to great heights. It is quite possible that 
birds can see the air itself by some arrangement 
of the lenses of their eyes which may either en- 
able them to see the fine dust particles or to so 
polarise the light that the direction of its vibra- 
tions can be determined and the course of flight 
so changed that an air lane favourable to the path 
of the bird can be followed and by following out 
one stream lane among many, which has an up- 
ward trend sufficient to counteract the falling 
tendency, the bird can remain at an equal eleva- 
tion. 

Mr. Orville "Wright has clearly demonstrated 
this to be possible by his experiments lately made 
at Kitty Hawk, N. C., where he was able to soar 
for ten minutes over the summit of a sand dune, so 
delicately adjusting the surfaces of his glider to 
the up-trend of the wind that he was falling or 
descending at the same speed that the wind was 
rising, and thus he seemed to stand still over one 
spot on the ground. After increasing his descent 
and approaching the ground, he was able by the 
delicacy of adjustment of his controls to change 
the relation in such a manner that the wind rising 
overbalanced the descending of the machine and 
he was carried backward and upward to the crest 
of the hill again, where he remained for a short 
time before again gliding downward to the level 
ground below. In the same manner that a boat 
sails against the wind by the force of the wind 



230 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

blowing against the sail, which is placed at an 
angle to it and which resists sidewise motion by 
the pressure of the water against the hull of the 
boat, a glider with horizontal sails set at the 
proper angle will also sail into the wind which 
blows against its surfaces and which makes the 
path of least resistance a motion forward and 
slightly descending with relation to the direction 
of the wind, but which, in the case of an upward 
moving current of air, may be a path rising in 
respect to the ground. 

The development of skill in this art will come 
by practice, and young men will follow out the 
ideas and suggestions of the more experienced 
until we will have small, light, flexible machines 
with such sensitive control that, with small mo- 
tors to enable them to rise or to get from one 
place to another, much as a bird flaps its wings 
when necessary to add a little to the power which 
it gets from the wind itself, or in rising from the 
ground, will be able to sail around and glide 
on the strength of the wind for hours at a time. 

The clever aviator or real birdman with his 
keen instinct cultivated to a state of perfection, 
fitted with polarising glasses possibly, may seek 
out and utilise the various powers that are pres- 
ent in the air; adjusting his wings so that he will 
be supported by the upward motion of the air 
itself where it exists, or, by turning on his motor, 
moving from one rising column of air to another, 



CYCLE-SAILING 231 

upon which he may hover and circle around, steer- 
ing clear of all those other air lanes which are 
leading in some other direction. 

These glasses, by showing where the air waves 
are all of one direction, may reveal a current 
flowing in one way, while they may make great 
masses of air flowing in some other direction ap- 
pear as of some other colour, say red, for in- 
stance; or, again, in another direction, all may 
look green, and it will only be necessary to keep 
where all is pure white. 

Entirely new types of machines have been re- 
cently constructed in France called "aviettes" 
and "cycloplanes." These are machines like 
gliders which are mounted on bicycle wheels and 
small aeroplanes with wings which have aerial 
propellers turned by the pedals which drive them 
along the ground and through the air. 

A contest was held in France in June, 1912, for 
a prize offered by the Puegeot Bicycle Company 
for the first machine of this type to fly a distance 
of about forty feet and later a second prize for 
the first machine to fly over two tapes one meter 
three feet nine inches apart and four inches 
high. Both of these prizes were competed for by 
machines without any motor and driven solely by 
man power. Over two hundred entries were re- 
ceived by the promoters of the contest, but no one 
accomplished the flight on that date of the public 
contest. Three days afterward, however, Gabriel 



232 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

Paulhain succeeded in winning the prize put up 
for the second test. He flew eleven feet nine 
inches on his first trial and ten feet nine inches 
on the second, which was made in the reverse 
direction. 

There seems to be great interest in this form 
of human flight, which was the original way of 
attacking the problem of flight itself. When the 
gasoline motor was perfected mechanical flight 
followed very quickly and was rapidly developed 
to a high degree of practicability. It is possible 
that with encouragement human flight may also 
become more common than it now is. 



PAET V 

EVERY-DAY FLYING FOR PROFESSIONAL 
AND AMATEUR 

BY 

GLENN H. CURTISS 

WITH CHAPTERS BY 

AUGUSTUS POST AND HUGH ROBINSON 



CHAPTER I 

TEACHING AVIATORS HOW AN AVIATOR FLIES 

TEACHING another man how to fly is a very 
important matter, in whatever way yon 
look at it. 

You can take a perfect machine and select ideal 
conditions and let everything be right for making 
a flight and then it is directly np to the pupil he 
must do the operating of the machine, no one else 
can do it for him. In a single passenger machine, 
the instructor can clearly show how it is done 
and then the other fellow must do it. The trick 
in learning to fly is self-confidence and that must 
be gained by personal practise. Any man who 
wants to fly badly enough can fly. 

Almost all of the aviators that have flown and 
are now flying Curtiss machines, like Hamilton, 
Mars, Ely, McCurdy, Beachey, and Willard and 
the army and navy aviators, have been practically 
self-taught although now we have a regular 
school under the supervision of Lieut. J. W. Mc- 
Claskey, U. S. M. C. (retired), who has had great 
success with his pupils. I have been flying for 
over four years and I feel that I don't know much 
about it yet. 

235 



236 THE CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

The would-be aviator should go to a good 
school where the best facilities can be had and 
where there is a good large place to fly, without 
obstructions. The machine should be thoroughly 
mastered and every part understood. Training 
a man to fly does not, as I regard it, consist in 
putting him in an aeroplane and letting him go 
up before he knows how to get down again. Any- 
body may be able to go up in an aeroplane, but it 
requires skill and practice to come down without 
damage to man or machine. 

HOW TO FLY 

An aeroplane is supported in the air by its 
wings. These are placed at a slight angle to the 
direction in which it goes so that the front edge 
is slightly higher than the rear edge. This tends 
to push the air downward and the speed of the 
aeroplane must be great enough to skim over the 
air before it has a chance to flow away. You may 
have had the experience of skating over thin ice 
which would bend beneath your weight as long as 
you kept moving, although it would have broken 
if you remained in one place. This is precisely 
the same phenomenon, and as the water has not 
time to flow away underneath from the thin ice so 
the air is caught under the surfaces of the wings 
and the machine passes on gathering new air as 
it goes to support it, faster than the air can flow 
away. A curved surface is better than a flat one 



HOW TO FLY 237 

and to find just the proper curve to be most ef- 
ficient at the speed at which the machine is to fly 
is a very difficult problem and must be deter- 
mined by very careful laboratory experiments. 

The various flying machines have different 
ways of accomplishing the control of the rudders 
for steering to the right or left, and up and down, 
for a flying machine is different from all other 
vehicles in this one respect. In addition to the 
steering, the machine must be balanced, and as 
the air is the most unstable of all mediums, how 
to maintain the equilibrium becomes perhaps the 
most important point in the construction of an 
aeroplane, as well as the most necessary one for 
the aviator to master. This is accomplished in 
various ways and is the characteristic feature of 
the different machines. 

The Curtiss machine is considered one of the 
simplest of all. When it is remembered that Mr. 
C. F. Willard, my first pupil, learned to operate 
a machine with hardly any instruction it would 
seem that the mere learning to operate should not 
be a serious obstacle to overcome. If the air is 
still and there are no wind gusts to strike the ma- 
chine sideways and upset it, flying is easy, but if 
the air comes in gusts and is rolling and turbulent 
even the best and most skilful operator is kept 
busy manoeuvring the front rudder and endeav- 
ouring to keep the machine headed into the wind, 
and when it tips, moving the side controls to 



238 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

maintain the balance. With all of these move- 
ments it is no wonder that the aviator's mind 
must be active there is no time to think, every 
movement and act must be absolutely accurate 
and the body must be under full control. 

The operator sits on a small seat just in front 
of the lower main plane ; directly in front of him 
is a wheel which he can push out or pull back. 
Pushing the wheel out turns the elevating sur- 
faces so that the machine points down. On the 
other hand, pulling the wheel toward you points 
the machine up, causing it to rise higher into the 
air. Turning the wheel to the right or left steers 
the machine to the right or left in the same man- 
ner as a boat is steered by turning its rudder. 

The operator now must consider how to bal- 
ance the aeroplane. On each side at the extreme 
outer ends of the machine are placed small hori- 
zontal planes so hinged at their front edge that 
they may be turned up or down. They are con- 
nected together in such a manner that when one 
points up the other points down, thus acting as a 
"couple"; wires connect these stabilising planes 
to the movable back of the pilot's seat. This has 
a yoke which fits over the shoulders of the oper- 
ator. 

When the machine tips to the left the aviator 
naturally leans to the right or the highest side 
and the lever is moved to the right by the pressure 



LEAENING TO FLY 239 

of the shoulder. This causes the left hand sta- 
bilising plane to be pulled down so that it offers 
its surface at an angle to the wind and exerts a 
lift on its side while the right hand plane is 
turned the opposite way, which causes it to exert 
a depressing effect on its side ; this tends to right 
the machine. 

The operator must use his feet also for there is 
a pedal for the left foot which operates the throt- 
tle of the engine, causing it to go faster or slower, 
and one for the right foot which operates a brake 
on the front wheel, which helps to stop the aero- 
plane after it has landed and is running over the 
ground on its wheels. 

THE FIKST STEPS 

It is necessary to know every detail of the ma- 
chine every bolt, nut and screw, and the pur- 
pose each serves in the economy of the whole. It 
is absolutely essential for the successful aviator 
to know his motor. The motor is the heart of the 
aeroplane, and keeping it in good order is just 
as necessary to the aviator's safety as is the keep- 
ing of his own heart strong for any emergency 
that he may be called to face. 

After becoming familiar with its workings, so 
that it becomes second nature to make the right 
movements, get into the machine and when the 
air is perfectly still run it over the ground. 



240 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

When there is no more novelty in the sensation 
and the machine is in a good position to get up 
speed you raise the elevator a little and try mak- 
ing short jumps into the air. The other pupils 
standing in a group at the end of the field are 
usually hoping and praying that you will not 
smash the machine before their turn comes and 
so cause delay until it is repaired. 

In San Diego, there was great rivalry between 
the Army and the Navy. Witmer and Ellyson 
used to get up by sunrise and go over to the island 
and take out the old machine we used for teach- 
ing, which was nicknamed " Lizzy." They did 
this secretly because there was only one machine 
and they did not want the Army to smash it and 
so keep them down on the ground. After making 
their practice, they would go home and come back 
later, pretending that it was their first appear- 
ance. 

When the officers began their schooling they 
fell steadily into my way of looking at the prob- 
lem, and not one of them spared himself bruised 
hands or grimy clothing. For the first ten days 
I did not offer them a chance even to give the 
motor its full power while they were in the avia- 
tor's seat. After they had worked around the 
aeroplane long enough, however, and were fa- 
miliar with all its details, they were allowed to 
make "runs" over the half mile course, straight- 
away. 



LEABNING TO FLY 241 

i 

That is, they took their seats in the machine in 
turn, the propeller was started, and the machine 
propelled along the ground on its wheels, like an 
automobile, without being able to rise. To pre- 
vent the machine rising while one of the men was 
in it, the throttle of the engine was so arranged 
that it only got half power, which was not suffi- 
cient to give it lifting power, but enough to drive 
it along on the ground at twenty or twenty-five 
miles an hour. This "grass cutting, " as the boys 
soon dubbed it, gave them the opportunity to be- 
come used to the speed and the "feel" of the ma- 
chine. It also taught them to steer a straight 
course by using the rudder and the front control, 
and to practise balance by the use of the ailerons. 
After a few days of these runs the throttle was 
given full vent, allowing full speed on the wheels, 
but the propeller was changed to one without the 
usual pitch. Thus, while the engine would drive 
the aeroplane at full speed on its wheels, this 
propeller did not have enough thrust to lift it 
from the ground. In this way the military 
pupils got the advantage of the speed, acquired 
balance, and adjusted their control to suit it, 
without the danger of getting up in the air too 
soon. 

A little later, when they had thoroughly ac- 
customed themselves to these conditions, still an- 
other propeller was put on. This one had just 
sufficient pitch to lift the aeroplane from the 



242 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

ground, when well handled, and it would make 
' ' jumps " of from twenty to fifty feet at a height 
of a few inches or, perhaps, a few feet. 

These jumps served still further to develop the 
ability of the men to control the machine and 
perfect their balance, and it gave them the first 
sensation of being in flight at high speed, though 
not high enough to do any great damage should 
one of them be so unlucky as to smash up. A 
smash-up was what we particularly wished to 
guard against at all times, not only because of 
the cost of repairs and the delay, but largely be- 
cause an accident, even though it may do no in- 
jury to the aviator, may seriously effect his 
nerves. I have known of beginners who, while 
making rapid progress in learning to fly, suffered 
a complete setback just because of an unim- 
portant accident to the machine in flight, or in 
landing. Eagerness to fly too soon is responsible 
for many of the accidents that befall beginners. 
An ambitious young man may become thoroughly 
convinced after a few jumps that all he needs for 
making a long and successful flight is the oppor- 
tunity to get up a hundred feet or so. The first 
chance he has, he goes up as he had planned, and 
unless he is lucky or an exceptionally quick 
thinker, the odds are that he will smash up in 
getting back to earth again. 

I have never seen any one more eager to fly, 
and to fly as quickly as possible, than were these 



LEARNING TO FLY 243 

officers. Probably they were following the mili- 
tary bent of their minds or, perhaps, it was the 
enthusiasm of the pioneer in a new science. 

As a rule, the mornings at San Diego are fine. 
There is seldom any wind during the forenoon, 
except when one of the winter rain storms blows 
in from the ocean. We tried to get in as much 
work during this calm period as possible. The 
mornings were found to be the best for doing this 
work. It was most desirable, not to say neces- 
sary, that the pupils should have a minimum of 
wind during their early practice work. Even 
the lightest wind may sometimes give serious 
trouble to the beginner. A gust may lift the 
aeroplane suddenly and then just as suddenly die 
out, allowing the machine, should it be in flight, 
to drop as quickly as it rose. Such a moment is 
a critical one for an inexperienced man. He feels 
himself dropping and unless he keeps his head 
clear, he may come to grief through doing too 
much or too little to restore his equilibrium. 

In the practice work all the officers, as well as 
two private students, C.C.Witmer of Chicago and 
E. H. St. Henry of San Francisco, used the same 
machine. This was one of the older types of bi- 
plane, with especially strong wheels, and with a 
four-cylinder engine. This type was selected as 
best adapted to the strain of heavy work. It had 
sufficient power, under its regular equipment, to 
fly well, but had not the very high speed of the 



244 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

latest type, fitted with eight-cylinder engines. 
For beginners, I consider the four-cylinder ma- 
chines the best. 

While most of the practice runs and jumps 
were made during the hours of the forenoon, 
when there was little or no wind, there was plenty 
of work on hand to fill in the afternoons as well. 
We were all the while experimenting with various 
devices, some of them new, others merely modifi- 
cations of the old. All of these, whether new or 
old, involved many changes in the equipment of 
the aeroplanes. There was seldom a time when 
at least one or more of the four machines we kept 
on the island was not in the process of being 
taken down or set up. Besides, there was the 
long series of experiments with the hydroaero- 
plane, which were carried on from day to day 
without affecting the regular practice work. 

These frequent changes in motor, propeller, 
planes, or controls, were always taken part in by 
the officers. Thus they became acquainted with 
everything about an aeroplane and knew the re- 
sults produced by the changes. I consider this 
the most valuable part of their training. 

All this "building up" process, as it may be 
called, that is, building up a thorough knowledge 
of the aeroplane until every detail is known, I 
believed to be necessary. I proceeded on the the- 
ory that confidence is sure only when the aviator 
has a thorough understanding of his machine, and 



LEAENING TO FLY 245 

confidence is the absolute essential to the man 
who takes a trip in an aeroplane. If the aviator 
has not the knowledge of what to do, or what his 
machine will do under certain conditions, he 
would better not trust himself in the air. Once 
the men learned to make the runs and jumps suc- 
cessfully and to handle the machine with ease and 
confidence, they were ready for the next stage of 
their training before they could be trusted to 
make a flight. This was to go as passengers. 
For the carrying of a passenger, I chose the hy- 
droaeroplane. 

This machine was not equipped with wheels 
for landing on the earth, when I first began to 
use it, but had all the equipment for starting 
from or landing on the water. We had built a 
hangar for storing it at night close down to the 
water on Spanish Bight, which gave us the 
smooth shallow water for launching it and haul- 
ing it out with ease. 

First, the men were taken in turn as passen- 
gers for runs over the surface of the bay. On 
these runs I made no attempt to rise from the 
water. I wanted to give the men time to accus- 
tom themselves to the new sensation of skimming 
over the water at forty miles an hour, for that is 
the speed at which I was able to drive the hydro- 
aeroplane. The machine would skim along under 
full power, with the edge of the float " skipping " 
the water as a boy skips a stone on a pond. 



246 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

After this I undertook short flights, taking each 
officer in turn as a passenger, and keeping within 
fifty or a hundred feet of the water. At intervals 
I would make landings on the water, coming down 
until the float touched the surface, and then get- 
ting up again without shutting off the power. 
When these flights had been made for several 
days and the men had accustomed themselves 
thoroughly to the sensation of being in flight, I 
believed they had progressed far enough to be 
taken up for longer and higher flights over both 
land and sea. In these flights I used a machine 
equipped for landing on both land and water with 
equal safety. 

One of the most important things that should 
be developed in the beginner, and, at the same 
time, the most difficult, is the sense of balance. 
Every one who has ever ridden a bicycle knows 
that the sense of balance comes only after con- 
siderable practice. Once a bicycle is under way 
the balance is comparatively easy, but in an aero- 
plane the balance changes with every gust of 
wind, and the aviator must learn to adjust himself 
to these changes automatically. Especially is a 
fine sense of balance necessary in making sharp 
turns. 

Some aviators develop this sense of balance 
readily, while others acquire it only after long 
practice. It may be developed to a large extent 
by going up as a passenger with an experienced 



LEARNING TO FLY 247 

aviator. I have noticed that it always helps a 
beginner, therefore, to make as many trips as 
possible with some one else operating the aero- 
plane. In this way they soon gain confidence, 
become used to the surroundings, and are ready 
for flights on their own hook. 

One by one the officers were taken up as pas- 
sengers on sustained flights until they felt per- 
fectly at ease while flying high and at great 
speed. The machine I used for passenger-car- 
rying practice work was capable of flying fifty- 
five miles an hour without a passenger, and prob- 
ably fifty miles an hour with a passenger. This 
speed gave the men an opportunity to feel the 
sensation of fast and high flying, an experience 
that sometimes shakes the nerves of the amateur. 

All this took time. As I have said elsewhere, I 
did not want to force the knowledge of aviation 
upon the young officers. Bather, I wanted to let 
them absorb most of it, and to come by the thing 
naturally and with confidence. It was much bet- 
ter, as I regarded it, to take more time, and give 
more attention to the little details, than to sacri- 
fice any of the essentials to a too-quick flight. 

The men who had been detailed to learn to 
fly, I assumed, would be called upon to teach other 
officers of the Army and Navy and, therefore, they 
should be thoroughly qualified to act as instruct- 
ors when they should have completed their work 
at San Diego. This is the view they took also, I 



248 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

believe, and I never saw men more anxious to 
learn to fly. 

During the last period of instruction, when the 
men had gone through all the preliminaries ; when 
they had learned how to take down and set up a 
Curtiss aeroplane; knew the motor, and how to 
operate it to the best advantage; in short, were 
thoroughly acquainted with every detail of the 
machine, they were ready for the advanced stage 
of the work. This was to take out a four-cylin- 
der aeroplane for flights of from three to ten min- 
utes ' duration at various heights. 

My instructions to all of the men were never 
to ascend to unaccustomed heights on these prac- 
tice flights; that is, not to venture beyond the 
heights at which they felt perfectly at ease and 
capable of handling the machine, and to make a 
safe landing without danger to themselves or to 
the machine. These instructions were obeyed at 
all times. Perhaps the caution exercised at 
every stage of the instructional period had had 
its effect on the men and they felt no desire to 
take unnecessary chances. 

When they were able to fly and to make safe 
landings in a four-cylinder machine, I considered 
that I had done all I could do to make aviators of 
them. I had tried not to neglect anything that 
would prove of benefit to them in their future 
work things I had had to learn through long 
years of experiments and many failures. In 



LEAENING TO FLY 249 

other words, I tried to give them the benefit of 
all my experience in the many little details that 
go to make the successful aviator. 

Given the proper foundation for any trade or 
profession, the intelligent man will work out his 
own development in his own way. I could only 
start the men along the road I believed to be the 
easiest and safest to travel; they had to choose 
their own way and time to reach the goal. 

It has been a pleasure and satisfaction to work 
with the officers of the Army and Navy. Their 
desire to learn the problems of aviation, intelli- 
gently applied, has made the work easier than I 
had anticipated. The many little annoyances 
that often beset us are forgotten in the keen sat- 
isfaction of having been of some service to the 
men themselves, and above all to our War and 
Navy Departments. 

A BULLETIN ISSUED AT THE CURTISS AVIATION CAMP 

The course is divided into six parts or stages. 

1st. Ground work with reduced power. To 
teach running in straight line. 

2nd. Straightaway flights near the ground, just 
sufficient power to get off. 

3rd. Straightaway flights off the ground at a 
distance of ten or fifteen feet to teach use of the 
rudder and ailerons. 

4th. Eight and left half circles and glides. 

5th. Circles. 



250 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

6th. Figure eights, altitude flights and landings 
without power and glides. 

In the above stages of instruction the men 
should learn the following about flying: 

FIRST STAGE 

Learn to run straight, using rudder and keep- 
ing on the ground. The idea is to be able to con- 
trol under reduced power. Student must be 
kept at this continuously until he is perfectly at 
home in the machine and accustomed to the noise 
of the motor and the jar and movement of the 
machine on the ground. This practice should be 
kept up from one to two weeks, depending upon 
the ability the student shows in handling the ma- 
chine in this part of the instruction. 

SECOND STAGE 

Motor throttled, but with sufficient power to al- 
low the student to jump the machine off of the 
ground for very short distances. Care must be 
taken in adjusting the throttle to allow for wind 
conditions, otherwise machine may be shot up into 
the air suddenly and the student lose control of 
it. Student should be also instructed during 
these jumps to pay attention to the ailerons to 
keep the machine balanced. The throttle can be 
gradually let out to full as soon as the student 
begins to acquire the use of the ailerons and 
keeps good balance. 



LEARNING TO FLY 251 

THIED STAGE 

Student should be instructed to rise fifteen or 
twenty feet from the ground in straightaway 
flights, and use rudder slightly in order to become 
accustomed to its use and its effect on the ma- 
chine in the air. As soon as the student has ac- 
complished the above he may be permitted to 
rise to the approximate height of one hundred 
feet if the field is large enough and to glide down 
under reduced power. When he has done this 
successfully many times, let him repeat the above 
gliding with motor cut out completely. 

FOURTH STAGE 

Student may be permitted to rise to the height 
of twenty-five to fifty feet and make half circles 
across the field to the right and then to the left. 
These circles should be shortened or sharpened 
with increased banking on turns until they are 
sufficient for any ordinary condition or case of 
emergency. 

FIFTH STAGE 

The student may be permitted to rise to a 
height of not less than fifty feet, and if the field 
is sufficiently large, permitted to make long cir- 
cles, gradually shortening these circles until the 
shortest circle required is reached. Student 



252 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

should be cautioned not to climb on the turns. 
He should be instructed to drop the machine on 
the turns, thus increasing the speed and lessening 
the possibility of slipping side wise in banking. 
He should be instructed to land as nearly as pos- 
sible on all three wheels at once. This may be 
accomplished by flying or gliding as close to the 
ground as possible and parallel to it, then slow- 
ing the engine and allowing the machine to settle 
to the ground. 

SIXTH STAGE 

In making figure eights for pilot's license, 
student should try to climb as much as possible 
on the straightaways between the turns and drop 
slightly on the turns. In making glides from 
high altitudes where motor is voluntarily cut off, 
it is best to start the gliding angle before the 
power is cut off. In case the motor should stop 
suddenly, the machine should be plunged instantly 
if machine is at sufficient altitude and consider- 
ably sharper than the gliding angle, in order to 
maintain the head-on speed, and then gradually 
brought back to the gliding angle. 

A DAY AT HAMMONDSPOKT NOTE BY AUGUSTUS POST 

The Curtiss Aviation Camp at Hammondsport 
broke all records on June 22, 1912, by the number 
of flights made in a day. In all, two hundred and 
forty flights were made. One hundred and twen- 



LEARNING TO FLY 253 

ty-six of these were with the practice machine 
called "Lizzie" and constituted straight flights 
for the length of the field and half circles. Sixty- 
four flights were made with the eight-cylinder 
practice machine, and consisted of half circles, 
circles, and figure eights. The other sixty flights 
were made with the hydroaeroplane. 

The twelve students who made these flights, 
some of whom were taking the course in the hydro 
and land machine both, expressed themselves as 
pretty thoroughly tired out at the end of this 
strenuous day's work. One hundred or more 
flights are made practically every day in the 
week, but the twenty-second being a particularly 
fine day, this new record was made. 

The day's flying used up a barrel of gasoline 
and four gallons of oil. A. P. 



CHAPTER II 

AVIATION FOR AMATEURS 

THE man who contemplates buying an aero- 
plane for his own use will be especially in- 
terested in three subjects: First, how difficult it 
is to learn to fly; second, how long it takes to 
learn ; and third, what is the cost of up-keep. By 
difficult I do not mean dangerous; any one who 
has gone far enough to consider owning and op- 
erating a machine knows and discounts the ele- 
ment of danger, and as to cost, it is easy to get 
figures on the first cost of an aeroplane; what 
the investigator would like to know is what it is 
likely to cost him for maintenance, breakage, and 
so on. 

With a competent teacher and if ever compe- 
tence was necessary it is here learning to fly is 
neither difficult nor dangerous. Six weeks ought 
to be time enough to teach one to fly, provided 
the pupil knows something about motors and is 
apt in other ways. Contrary to popular belief, 
reckless daring is not one of the requirements 
for success. Indeed, a man who applies for a 
position as aviator with the announcement that 
he is a daredevil afraid of nothing under heaven, 
is very likely to be rejected for this very reason, 

254 



AVIATION FOE AMATEUES 255 

and a pupil who has the common sense to know 
that there is no especial point in defying a quite 
impersonal force like gravitation will get up a 
much better start than one who has so little cau- 
tion that he wants to get up in the air too soon. 
Caution is the great thing for the beginner. Let 
him learn the machine first from the ground and 
on the ground, learn the controls and find out 
what to do when he shall be up in the air. Then 
let him learn how it feels to run over the ground 
on the wheels. Then he will begin to make 
' ' jumps," little ones, then longer and longer, un- 
til he is free of any fear of the air. This comes 
sooner with some than with others, and it is said 
that in some rare cases fear of the air never exists 
at all, for the great aviator, the star performer, 
like any other great man, has to be born with cer- 
tain qualifications and a good many of them. 
There is no reason, with the advancing improve- 
ment in the flying machine, why almost every one 
with a real desire to fly should not be able in a 
comparatively short time to learn to do so. 

As for the third point, it will cost no more to 
keep an aeroplane than to own an automobile. 
The initial cost is the greatest. Of course, there 
are the same qualifications that obtain with the 
automobile the cost of up-keep will depend upon 
whether you have many and serious breakages 
and whether the owner looks after his own ma- 
chine. Should the owner prefer to hire a com- 



256 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

petent mechanic, his wages will be about the same 
as those of a first-class chauffeur. As for smash- 
ups, the expense of these would be considerable, 
but not as much as it would be if an automobile 
should have an accident. For contrary to the 
ideas of a good many of the uninitiated, it is 
quite possible to injure an aeroplane, and quite 
seriously, too, without in the least hurting the 
aviator. In this respect the hydroaeroplane is 
of course safest of all ; I am reminded of a recent 
accident at Antibes, near Nice, France, where 
Mr. Hugh Eobinson, who was demonstrating a 
Curtiss hydroaeroplane, suffered a badly wrecked 
machine without the least injury. Forced to make 
a quick landing, he chose, in order to avoid a 
flock of motor boats filled with spectators, to dive 
directly into the water. The shock threw him out 
of the machine and he swam about unconcernedly 
until a motor boat picked him up. Of course a 
similar sharp contact with the solid ground would 
have wrecked the aviator to some extent as well, 
but it is possible to put a hydroaeroplane com- 
pletely out of commission, necessitating expensive 
repairs, and not be more than shaken up. 

Be ally there is much less danger of smash-up s 
than the outsider would think, provided the avia- 
tor is a careful driver. The main thing is to 
have great judgment in choosing a time for flights. 
An inexperienced aviator should never take up 
his machine in an unsteady wind of greater veloc- 



AVIATION FOE AMATEUES 257 

ity than ten miles an hour. The less wind the 
better, for the beginner. The dangerous wind is 
the puffy, gusty sort, and this should be avoided 
by any but the most experienced aviator. It must 
be remembered, however, that it is the variations 
and not the velocity of the wind which causes 
trouble. 

Another item of expense to be taken into con- 
sideration is the transportation of an aeroplane 
from one place to another, for it does not always 
go on its own wings. This, however, is neither 
difficult nor expensive. I am able, for example, 
to take down my machines and pack them in spe- 
cially constructed boxes so that they take up but 
a comparatively small space for shipment. The 
setting up process is not difficult, nor even com- 
plicated, and can be performed by any one having 
had the proper instructional term at a first-class 
aviation school. An illustration shows an aero- 
plane, in its case, carried on an automobile. 

With regard to safety as a steady, every-day 
means of transportation, all of us, in and out of 
the profession, know that, as Mr. Hudson Maxim 
has said, to make the aeroplane a common vehicle 
for, say, the commuter, "It must be improved so 
that flights shall become more a function of the 
machine and less a function of the aviator. " At 
present a great deal depends upon the man who 
is flying especially upon his quick and accurate 
judgment and his power to execute his judgment 



258 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

instantly and automatically. The man who buys 
an aeroplane to fly knows this beforehand and 
takes it into account; indeed it is a question 
whether, if the flying machine were as safe as a 
rocking-chair, there would be so much fascination 
about it; but while the aviator will always have 
to take into account, no matter how the mechan- 
ism may be improved, a certain element of dan- 
ger that must attend it, he may as well remember, 
to quote Mr. Maxim once more, that "the tenure 
of life of no automobilist is stronger than his 
steering gear." 

It certainly is not looking too far ahead to fore- 
cast the entrance of the aeroplane into the com- 
muter's life. The great mass of the people cer- 
tainly will not take the air-line, any more than 
they are now coming in by automobile every 
morning, and yet how many business men and 
not necessarily the richest do make the trip, that 
twice a day they used to take in a railroad car, in 
the open air, with the exhilarating breezes of 
their own automobiles? Perhaps not these same 
business men, but a corresponding class, will un- 
doubtedly reduce the dull hours of train travel 
by half and turn them into hours of delight by 
the popularisation of aeroplane transportation. 
As has been the case with every means of trans- 
portation that has shortened time of travel, the 
habitable zones around cities will grow larger and 
larger as places hitherto inaccessible open before 



AVIATION FOE AMATEURS 259 

the coming of the swiftest form of transportation 
known to man, and the only one not dependent 
upon the earth's surface, whether mountain, 
swamp, or river, to shape its course. 

If we had a course only a few hundred feet wide 
from New York to St. Louis or Chicago, aero- 
planes could go through every day and there 
would be little danger ; indeed, even as things are 
now, it would be a much safer method of travel 
than by automobile, as well as of course much 
faster. Long lanes with grass on each side and 
an automobile highway in the middle would be of 
the greatest advantage to both forms of travel. 
In crossing mountains on the downhill side an 
aeroplane could glide for long distances at an 
angle of one to five, so that if the elevation were 
a mile high it could glide five miles before land- 
ing. And on the up-hill side it could of course 
land immediately and with ease. 

To return to the amateur, it is always better to 
go around an object that you can not land on im- 
mediately. Landing is indeed one of the most 
important points for the amateur aviator to con- 
sider. If it is possible, watch all accidents and 
study them closely. I take every means I can to 
learn what causes an accident so as to guard 
against it myself. Strictly speaking almost ev- 
erything about the art of aviation is being learned 
by experimentation and the causes of accidents, 
while not always exactly ascertainable, are of 



260 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

the greatest interest to builders and operators of 
flying machines, for out of the accidents of to-day 
often come the improvements of to-morrow. 

While learning, and indeed whenever possible, 
you should examine the ground before attempting 
to fly over it. The pupil should inspect every inch 
of the course over which he is to fly, by walking 
carefully over it, noticing all the holes and ob- 
structions in the ground. Then should it be nec- 
essary to land, for any cause whatever, he will 
know instinctively where to land and what to 
avoid in landing. Keep away from other aero- 
planes, for the wind-wash in their wake may tip 
up your plane and cause serious trouble. 

My advice to the amateur begins and ends with 
one injunction: "Go slow." Yes, for more than 
a month, "Go slow." It is hard to resist the 
temptation to try to do stunts; with a certain 
amount of familiarity with your machine, so that 
you feel you could do a great deal more than you 
are doing, and with some experienced and confi- 
dent performer all but turning somersaults with 
his machine over your head, to the delight of the 
crowd, it is hard to resist giving one's self the 
thrill that comes from taking a risk and not being 
caught, but you will do the stunts all the better 
for going slow at first. 

Mr. Charles Battell Loomis, the late American 
humourist, said once, in talking about the opening 
of the fields of air: 



AVIATION FOR AMATEURS 261 

"It was thought that the automobile was a ma- 
chine of danger, but the aeroplane has made it 
comparatively safe. A man in an aeroplane a 
mile above the earth, taking his first lesson all 
by himself, is in a perilous position. He has not 
one chance in a thousand of ever owning another 
machine. 

"A man who will fly over a city full of hard- 
working people is a selfish brute. Until a man is 
absolutely sure of himself he should always fly 
with a good-sized net suspended beneath his ma- 
chine. 

"The man in the street has always hated new 
things. He hated velocipedes, then bicycles, then 
safeties, then automobiles, then motorcycles, but 
he has not yet learned to hate the aeroplane. But 
wait until monkey wrenches begin to fall on 
Broadway or beginners begin to fall on the man 
in the street. Then he will be mad at the aero- 
plane if there is anything left of him." 

Allowing for the humorous exaggeration, there 
is this element of truth in this that mechanical 
flight has as yet a strong element of uncertainty. 

Yet there are certainly wonderful stunts to be 
done with a flying machine, and the fun is as much 
in the effect on the flier as on the audience ; per- 
haps even more so. I would fly for the mere 
sport if I were not in the business, for there is a 
fascination about flying that it is unnecessary to 
explain and difficult to resist. You can chart cur- 



262 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

rents of the sea, but the wind is such a capricious 
element that though there are, so to speak, outline 
maps that could be made of the general direction 
of the winds, there will always be a certain un- 
certainty about their conduct. Nevertheless there 
are so much greater possibilities in flying than 
in any other of the arts, that it is no wonder the 
amateur wants to develop them. And in conclu- 
sion I can say that an aeroplane in perfect con- 
dition is as safe as an automobile going at the 
same speed and I mean it I 



CHAPTER III 

HOW IT FEELS TO FLY 
(By Augustus Post.) 

THERE is no one question that people ask 
more often than: "How does it feel to fly!" 
Perhaps a passenger feels more keenly the sen- 
sations of flight than an aviator because his mind 
is not taken up with the operation of the controls. 

As for the passenger, he climbs into the flying 
machine, takes his seat beside the operator, and 
becomes at once the centre of interest to all the 
people standing by. If he is himself an aviator 
it is another matter, but if it is his first experience 
in the air, he is usually the object of a certain 
shuddering admiration, not unmixed with envy. 

The motor is started, making a terrific noise 
that almost deafens him, and quite drowns the 
parting speeches and the eff erts of the funny men 
present to improve the occasion. With perfect 
calm, without the least excitement, the aviator 
listens to the noise of the motor; he hears it run 
and carefully notes the regularity of the explo- 
sions. When all is ready, he waves his hand 
the signal for the man holding the machine to let 
go. The machine runs along the ground, gather- 

263 



264 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

ing speed, bounces a little, so that one hardly 
knows when it leaves the ground; the front con- 
trol is raised, and the machine is in the air. 

You feel the rushing of the wind, and things be- 
low seem dancing about down there. The ma- 
chine keeps its exquisite poise in the air, sensitive 
to the slightest movement of the control. As it 
rises, the forward plane is turned a little down, 
and as the machine varies in its elevation, the 
plane is turned to bring it back to the level ; it tips 
a little to one side and the aviator moves, as it 
were instinctively, to correct the balance. The 
rush of the wind by your face becomes more vio- 
lent, and the machine pitches and balances as if 
it were suspended by a string or by some unseen 
force which holds it up in the air. 

When the flight nears its end and the machine 
flies low over the aviation field, the fences and 
trees there seem in a moment to be rushing to 
meet one. The planes are pointed downwards, 
the machine descends, is caught up again by the 
control, and glides along level with the ground, 
skimming just above the grass. The wind moves 
it a little side wise, perhaps, but the pilot, with the 
rudder, straightens the machine around until it 
points right into the wind's eye and the wheels are 
parallel with the direction of the machine over the 
ground. The control now causes the machine to 
come lower until the wheels strike the ground 
it rolls along bounces a little over the rough field 





g 



BBHBBBI 



(A) AUGUSTUS POST FLYING AT THE FIRST HARVARD-BOSTON MEET 
(B) AN AEROPLANE PACKED FOR SHIPMENT POST DRIVING 





CURTISS' PUPILS 

(A) J A D McCurdy racing against automobile, Daytona Beach. (B) Lieu- 
tenant T. G. Ellyson, U. S. N. (C) Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Atwater, pupils at 

San Diego 



HOW IT FEELS TO FLY 265 

the brake is set, and the machine comes to a 
stop. 

The aviator jumps down, the passenger climbs 
out with somewhat less agility, perhaps, and ex- 
presses his very hearty thanks, the plane is 
turned around, the propeller started, and the 
machine flies off again, leaving the passenger to 
tramp slowly through the grass, contemplating 
the insignificance of the human creature who is 
forced to walk humbly along the ground. You 
may remember that the first time you descended 
from an automobile and began to walk, you seemed 
to yourself to be only marking time. 

This new experience, though of the same nature 
as that, is far more impressive ; not alone the dif- 
ference in speed, but the whole character of the 
motion the altitude, the rushing wind, the sense 
of something long awaited and now realised 
sets the sensation of flight apart from any other, 
and makes him who once experiences it resolved 
to repeat the experience as soon and as often as 
possible. 

The passenger is at once the object of eager 
inquiries as to how he felt, and he usually makes 
it his business to express his satisfaction when- 
ever asked and sometimes without being asked, 
so there is little wonder that aviators are besieged 
by applicants for rides. A few months ago a 
lady who had been a passenger in an aeroplane 
was certain to get her picture in the papers ; now 



266 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

there are so many that it would be difficult even 
to keep a record of them. 

Now that we are coming to regard the aero- 
plane seriously, more from the practical and less 
from the grandstand side, it may be noted with- 
out fear of loss to gate receipts, that its dangers 
have been greatly exaggerated. Eational flight 
is hardly any more hazardous than motor speed- 
ing, steeple chasing, and many other sports, not 
to mention football! Engines stop and planes 
split, but steering gear breaks and horses stum- 
ble. Danger lurks everywhere, but we disregard 
it because the chances are long in our favour. 

The real danger in aviation lies in the chances 
men take as desire lays hold upon them; chances 
the dangers of which they fully realise, but disre- 
gard for various causes. There are so-called 
"holes in the air," but they are hardly more nu- 
merous than gullies in the road. High wind is 
dangerous, but the aviator can often avoid its 
perils if he will. Briefly, aviation confined to its 
now well-defined limitations, is a thoroughly ra- 
tional sport. 

The "queer" sensation of flight comes in a 
quick rise, dip or short turn, and you can experi- 
ence the same sensation in the elevator of a 
New York sky-scraper, Ferris wheel, shoot-the- 
chutes or even the back yard swing, for that mat- 
ter! Dizziness from height is not experienced, 
for one sees the landscape spread out from high 



HOW IT FEELS TO FLY 267 

up and afar off, as if from a sheltered balcony; 
the tendency is not to look down but away. 

While the rush of air is tremendous, it is not 
disagreeable, and one even forgets the deafening, 
unmuffled motor in the indescribable joys, mainly 
because of the wondrous charm and variety of the 
landscape which we have known only in detail, 
ignorant of its beauty as a mass. Apprehension, 
shuddering, gruesome, childish apprehension per- 
haps, at the starting, replaced by profound se- 
curity as mastery, perfect mastery, is apparent; 
a sense of joyous freedom following as the mar- 
vellous world below is revealed. Like an exqui- 
site monotone in low relief it is, each note of col- 
our with its value and in perfect harmony with 
the whole ; ever subtly changing, always some new 
surprise, some unexpected revelation, lifting one 
on the wings of exaltation. 

The popular literary vehicle of to-day, rivalling 
the " fairy coach of Cinderella, " is without ques- 
tion the alluring aeroplane, fitted with all the 
latest improvements : tachometer, inclinometer, 
animometer, barograph, aneroid, compass with 
map holders, lights, and all the modern conven- 
iences and aviation equipment, including a wire- 
less telegraph outfit, having shock absorbers for 
landing and an enclosed limousine cabin with mica 
or celluloid windows, in which not only can our 
spirits be wafted about, but in which we may en- 
joy all the material comforts of speedy travel, 



268 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

free from present annoyances and inconveniences, 
and without requiring the inflated rubber suits 
which Mr. Eudyard Kipling so kindly provided 
for his passengers on board the now famous 
11 Night Mail." Vehicles of this description al- 
ready exist and an "aero-bus" has carried as 
many as thirteen passengers besides its driver. 
It is confidently predicted that twenty passengers 
will soon be carried in an aeroplane at one time. 

There is no doubt but that in flying the higher 
faculties are called into play. No such elaborate 
preparation is necessary for learning to drive an 
automobile, but some instruction is usually found 
necessary when learning how to balance a bicycle 
for the first time and until confidence is secured, 
as is also the case in learning to swim. A good 
chauffeur does not necessarily make a good avia- 
tor even though he have exceptional ability as a 
driver of racing automobiles, although I think 
that an aviator might make a good driver of a 
racing automobile. This seems to indicate clearly 
to my mind that there is some additional quality 
required in flying. I know of one case where a 
successful automobile builder and driver killed 
himself on account of desperation over the fact 
that he could not master flying. 

Actors and men with a keen sense of feeling 
seem to do well in the air. They seem to get the 
"feel of the air," or to have the delicate sense 
of touch which is required to handle an aeroplane 



HOW IT FEELS TO FLY 269 

among the illusive vagaries of the atmosphere, 
and to be able to sense its rapid action and feel 
its ever-changing conditions almost before they 
take effect. One must be absolutely en rapport 
with his machine, as an expert horseman is part 
of his horse or his horse is part of him; such a 
rider stands out from all the rest, a beautiful sight 
to see and an expression of the poetry of motion ; 
such also is the manner of the master at the 
piano, whose very soul is in tune and vibrating 
with every subtle and rich harmony of the instru- 
ment, feeling at the same time the ever-changing 
mood of his audience as he sways them or is 
swayed by them in turn, keeping in close sym- 
pathy with their thoughts as well as suggesting 
to their minds the trend that they shall take. 

AVIATING AND BALLOONING 

The sensations which an aviator has during 
great flights of both duration and altitude are 
somewhat comparable to those of the balloon 
pilot 1 who sails in the sky far above the earth, 

i Mr. Post is not only intimately connected with the develop- 
ment of the aeroplane but also one of the most capable practical 
balloon-pilots in the world. Mr. Post accompanied Mr. Allan R. 
Hawley in October, 1910, when the balloon "America II," repre- 
senting the United States, broke the world's competition record 
and won the Gordon Bennett balloon cup by sailing one thousand 
one hundred seventy-two miles from St. Louis to Lake Tschoto- 
gama, in the wilds of Quebec. The trip took forty-six hours. 
This record still stands as American distance record. Mr. Post 



270 THE CUBTISS AVIATION BOOK 

feeling a peculiar realisation of the immediate 
presence of the Supreme Being, overwhelmed 
with the magnitude of the universe, with a sense 
of being a part of it, untrammelled, unaffected by 
ordinary things, surrounded with extraordinary 
conditions, supersensitive and yet keenly realis- 
ing, now, matters of vast importance; now, mi- 
nutely weighing his life in his hands as if it were 
something far removed from himself; breathing 
an air full of vigour and inspiration, with a sense 
of exaltation pervading every cell of the body 
is it a wonder that men enjoy such delights and 
really live only when they can cast off mere ex- 
istence and rise either to the contemplation of 
such experiences by reading and thinking about 
them or to a full realisation of these experiences 
by actually trying them out personally? Such 
moments, rapidly passing moments each going 
to make up our individual life are usually but 
too few. 

Is it then a wonder, that, after actual days of 
such vivid living, upon descending to earth or 
coming back among people, one should look at 
those who gather around about one as some kind 
of lower order of animal, that it should take a 
few moments to feel their presence gradually 
dawning upon him, and to bring his faculties 
slowly back where they can begin to understand 

also holds, with Mr. Clifford B. Harmon, the American endurance 
record of forty-eight hours, twenty-six minutes. THE PUBLISHERS. 



HOW IT FEELS TO FLY 271 

what these bystanders are thinking and talking 
about? 

This seems but a dream, but is in reality an 
actual experience of a return to earth after two 
days spent in the air and a visit to regions over 
four miles above its surface, much of the time 
out of sight of this dear old sphere, when ears 
had become unaccustomed to sound, and so im- 
paired by the change of pressure due to the high 
altitude that we could not, for some time after 
landing, hear when spoken to. Our own voices 
rang hollow and stuck in our throats, and our 
thought had become unattuned to those expressed 
by the gaping, wondering crowd, struck dumb at 
the sight of our arrival, and standing like cows 
in the pasture when you walk among them. 

Such is the state of mind in store for the air- 
man, the artist, the thinker, the person desiring 
to become isolated for a while to feel as Adam 
felt in all reality, when he stood in the midst of 
the garden of Eden, monarch of all he surveyed. 
This appeals strangely to the imagination but 
when it becomes a reality by virtue of actual ex- 
perience, it also becomes a sensation most difficult 
to express; for so few people understand what 
you are talking about, few having had the sensa- 
tions of being removed from this world and com- 
ing back again to it. 



CHAPTEE IV 

OPERATING A HYDROAEROPLANE 
(By Hugh Robinson.) 

THE general impression among aviators and 
manufacturers of aeroplanes is that the 
hydroaeroplane is rapidly becoming the flying 
craft of the future, by reason of its ease of con- 
trol, extensive bodies of water upon which to 
operate it, and, above all, its safety. 

It is practically impossible for the operator of 
a hydroaeroplane to suffer injury in case of acci- 
dent. Even in the worst kind of an accident, the 
most that can happen to the operator is an ex- 
hilarating plunge into salt or fresh water as the 
case may be, with the beneficial effects of a good 
swim if so desired, otherwise, the operator may 
" stand by" the wreckage, which cannot possibly 
sink. The several pontoons, together with the 
necessary woodwork to construct the planes, etc., 
furnish ample buoyancy to support the machine 
and operator even in case of a total wreck, which 
rarely ever happens. One can bang down upon 
the water with a hydro in any old fashion, and 
beyond a tremendous splash nothing serious hap- 
pens. 

272 



OPEKATING A HYDRO 273 

Of course, this article refers entirely to the 
Curtiss hydroaeroplane, which I have been oper- 
ating since its invention. The Curtiss pontoon is 
divided into six water-tight compartments, three 
of which will support the machine under average 
conditions. Recently, while the writer was 
abroad, a demonstration was made of these com- 
partments for safety in case of accident to any 
part of the pontoon. 

This demonstration took place at Monaco, and 
consisted in removing the drain plugs from two 
compartments, after which the hydro with pilot 
and passenger was pushed out into the harbour 
and allowed to stand thirty minutes to let the 
opened compartments fill with water, after which 
the motor was started and a flight made without 
the slightest difficulty. 

The operation of a hydro is very similar to 
that of the ordinary land machine only, if any- 
thing, considerably easier and more simple. The 
start of the hydro is simply starting the motor 
while the hydro is resting on the land or bank 
of the lake or river, with the front towards the 
water. The operator takes his place, and on 
opening the throttle gradually the thrust of the 
motor slides the apparatus along the ground, or 
planks if ground be unsuitable, and into the wa- 
ter. The pontoons being fitted underneath with 
steel shod runners makes it possible to start on 
rocks, gravel, or in fact most any reasonable sur- 



274 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

face. The finish can be made in the same man- 
ner, without assistance. 

It is possible to start the hydro on dry land if 
the surface is reasonably smooth, with the as- 
sistance of one or two mechanics. It is also pos- 
sible, in an emergency, even to land on the earth 
with the hydro pontoon attachment; and, of 
course, with wheels attached to the landing gear, 
one can come down on land as with the ordinary 
type of machine. 

Once out upon the water, the operator rapidly 
increases his speed by opening the throttle, taking 
care, however, to accelerate gradually, to allow 
the pontoon to mount the surface of the water 
without throwing an unnecessary amount of water 
into the propeller. Once a speed of twenty-five 
to thirty miles an hour is obtained, the pontoon 
skims lightly over the surface of the water. As 
the ailerons do not become effective until the 
machine acquires considerable speed, the small 
floats on the lower ends of wings maintain the 
balance until necessary speed is acquired. The 
small flexible wooden paddles on the lower rear 
ends of the wing tanks slide over the water and 
exert a great lifting effect, thus rigidly preserv- 
ing the balance on the water at slow speeds or 
standing, and also preventing damage to wings in 
case a bad landing is made whereby one wing 
strikes the water first. In such a case, instead 
of the wing digging into the water, the paddles 



OPERATING A HYDRO 275 

cause a glancing blow which levels the machine 
automatically. 

When the machine has acquired a certain speed 
it leaves the water in exactly the same manner as 
on the land and immediately increases its speed, 
due to the released friction from the water. It 
also has a slight tendency to jump into the air 
due to the released friction between the boat and 
water. Once into the air, the operator is the 
same as with the regular land-equipped Curtiss 
aeroplanes. 

The landing is made in the ordinary manner, 
bearing in mind to keep the boat as near level 
fore and aft as possible, and if the water be very 
rough to allow the tail of the machine to settle 
on the water first. This will prevent any possi- 
bility of sticking the front of the boat into an 
unexpected wave. 

As should be the case with any aeroplane, it is 
advisable to start and land against the wind if 
there be much, but this is not compulsory. The 
hydro may be landed even while drifting side- 
ways, in an emergency case. It is obvious that 
to do this with a land machine would be to invite 
disaster. 

The writer saw a forcible demonstration of the 
one and two pontoon types of hydros during the 
Hydroaeroplane Meet in France, and he had 
the only machine there with the single pontoon, 
and also the only one able to go out on rough 



276 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

water. He successfully made flights and landings 
in waves six to eight feet high, whereas three 
hydros of the two pontoon type were wrecked in 
waves less than two feet high. The single pon- 
toon-equipped hydro may be dragged out on the 
banks any place where a space two feet wide may 
be obtained, and on my recent trip down the Mis- 
sissippi, I had occasion to rejoice in this fact 
and put it to a practical test, as I was hauled out 
on shores between large rocks or stumps in sev- 
eral instances. The turning of the hydro is ac- 
complished by simply turning the rudder and 
leaning towards the turn, the same as on a bicycle, 
allowing the motor to run on reduced or half 
throttle. 

The exhilaration of flying a hydro cannot be 
described on paper. It is the fastest motor boat 
in the world, and to be able to approach a launch 
and jump over it and observe the consternation 
of the passengers is the keenest pleasure imagin- 
able. 

The hydro may be used solely as a motor boat 
if desired, at a speed of sixty miles per hour, 
without a drop of water ever touching its pas- 
sengers, or if weather be favorable, flights may 
be made at will of the operator. 

The surface of a river or lake offers the ideal 
condition for landing or starting an aeroplane, 
and these are more numerous than suitable 
grounds for land machines, besides this the air 



OPERATING A HYDRO 277 

conditions over water are always better than over 
land, due to its unbroken surface, which does not 
obstruct the air currents as do trees, houses, etc., 
on land. 

An automatic safeguard exists in the hydro to 
prevent accidents, such as has caused the loss of 
lives on land, and that is as follows: 

It is possible to rise in an ordinary land ma- 
chine with too little power to make a turn or climb 
fast, and as a result get a bad fall. Owing to 
the fact that there is a suction between the water 
and the pontoon it requires more power actually 
to leave the water than to fly once the plane is 
in the air. This fact prevents a hydro taking 
flight with too little reserve flying ability, and 
once in the air the operator may be sure of a con- 
siderable reserve of power to enable him to fly 
strongly and safely under all conditions. 



PAET VI 

THE CURTISS PUPILS AND A DESCRIPTION 

OF THE CURTISS AEROPLANE AND 

MOTOR 

BY 

AUGUSTUS POST 



CHAPTER I 

PUPILS 

ALL great masters have been represented by 
pupils who have done honour to their 
teacher and have achieved personal success in a 
large measure. Mr. Curtiss is no exception to 
this rule, for he has taught more than a hundred 
pupils. 

There have been representatives of all classes 
and all nationalities. The list includes all trades 
and professions, from horse trainers to bankers. 
And in all these have been pupils from thirteen 
nationalities including Russians, Germans, 
French, Canadians, Scotch, Irish, English, Jap- 
anese, Indians, Cubans, Mexican, Spaniards, and 
Greeks. 

Instruction has been given in all languages, in- 
cluding the sign language. Some nationalities 
are naturally a little harder than others to in- 
struct, largely because of national characteristics 
of thought, and also for the reason that in a 
southern climate those native to it are often un- 
accustomed to the rapid action necessary at times 
in flying. 

Negroes have not yet as a class taken to avia- 
281 



282 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

tion, but there is one Chinaman in California, 
Tom Gun, who has been successful as an aviator. 
But conspicuous among the list of pupils is the 
number of Army and Navy officers of our own, 
as well as of foreign countries, that have gradu- 
ated from the Curtiss School. 

Hydroaeroplane operation has also been taught 
to a number of pupils both at Hammondsport, 
N. Y., and at San Diego, California, where the 
training camps are located. 

The life that the pupils lead at these schools 
is most interesting and healthful. The students 
get up early, sometimes at four in the morning, 
when it is just light enough to see and when the 
air is usually calm and the best conditions for 
learning to fly exist. Pupils are outdoors prac- 
tically all day, flying, or working on the machines 
when any thing breaks or goes wrong. Many 
pupils have engaged in exhibition flying after 
completing their course of instruction, and among 
the large number of very excellent aviators that 
have followed in Mr. Curtiss' wing beats (for you 
can hardly say foot steps) have been some of the 
foremost aviators in the world and men whose 
fame and exploits are household words to-day. 

A partial list of some of these men at present 
active in the field is here given : 

Chas. F. Willard, Hugh Robinson, Chas. K. 
Hamilton, J. C. Mars, C. C. Witmer, E. C. 
St. Henry, Lincoln Beachey, Beckwith Havens, 




Beckwith Havens 
Chas. K. Hamilton 



CURTISS' PUPILS 

C. C. Witmer 

J. A. D. McCurdy 

Chas. F. Walsh 



Cromwell Dixon 
Chas. F. Willard 



LINCOLN BEACHEY 283 

Lieut. T. G. Ellyson, U. S. N.; Capt. P. W. 
Beck, U. S. A.; Lieut. J. H. Towers, U. S. 
N. ; William Hoff, J. B. McCalley, S. C. Lewis, 
C. W. Shoemaker, W. B. Atwater, Al. Mayo, Al. 
J. Engle, J. Lansing Callan, G. E. Underwood, 
Irah D. Spaulding, C. F. Walsh, Carl T. Sjo- 
lander, Fred Hoover, E. C. Malick, Eipley Bow- 
man, T. T. Maroney, C. A. Berlin, H. Park, W. M. 
Stark, E. H. McMillan, F. J. Terrill, Francis 
Wildman, F. J. Southard, Lieut. P. A. Dumford, 
W. B. Hemstrought, Earl Sandt, E. B. Eussell, 
Lieut. J. E. McClaskey, W. W. Vaughn, Barney 
Moran, M. Kondo, J. G. Kaminski, Mohan Singh, 
K. Takeishi. 

Among those in this list who have done wonder- 
ful things, it might be interesting to mention some 
of the marvellous feats of daring as well as a few 
of the achievements of Lincoln Beachey, who is 
credited with being the greatest exhibition aviator 
in the world. 

At the meet in Chicago in the summer of 1911, 
Beachey flew more miles than any other aviator. 
He flew all the time and was in the air during all 
the flying hours in one contest or another. He 
did all the special tricks in the air that were 
known, he carried passengers, won speed races, 
and established a new world's altitude record at 
11,642 feet. After flying as high as he could, at 
Chicago, with a seven gallon tank full of gasoline, 
Beachey came down and said: " To-morrow I'll 



284 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

go higher. " He had a ten gallon tank fitted to 
his machine, filled it full up to the top, and started 
right up from where his machine was standing on 
the ground, so as not to waste a drop of gasoline, 
and flew up and up until it was completely ex- 
hausted and his motor thus compelled to stop, but 
not until he had set the world's record at 11,642 
feet. He deliberately started out on this trip to 
climb up as long as his fuel would last. He knew 
his motor would stop and he would have to glide 
down. It was not an unintended glide but it 
was the longest glide on record. He brought out 
all the points and possibilities of his machine; 
distance, speed, weight-carrying, and altitude. 
Wilbur Wright said: "Beachey is the most won- 
derful flyer I ever saw and the greatest aviator of 
all." Calbraith P. Bodgers said upon his ar- 
rival at Los Angeles after flying across the Amer- 
ican continent, a distance of over four thousand 
miles, " Beachey 's daring flight down the gorge 
of Niagara and through the spray of the falls was 
a greater achievement than mine." Beachey has 
been remarkably free from serious accidents even 
though now he pitches straight down from the 
sky, seeming to fall straight to the earth and just 
catching his machine up in time to avoid striking 
the earth. 

At Hammondsport on July 29th, 1912, Beachey 
was trying out a new model military type and he 
ascended six thousand five hundred feet in fifteen 



LINCOLN BEACHEY 285 

minutes, while he came down in one minute, mak- 
ing one of his perpendicular dives with the engine 
still. The whistling of the wind through the taut 
wires of the machine could be heard half a mile 
away. On this occasion one of the lady visitors 
to the testing grounds, who had never seen 
Beachey fly before, thinking that he was falling 
and would surely strike the ground and be 
dashed to pieces, fainted. Beachey said, "Fly- 
ing did not come to me at first but it seemed to 
come all of a sudden and then it came big." l 

Once Beachey had to land in a very small place 
surrounded with trees and the only way he could 
do it with the fast machine that he was driving 
was to kill its speed in the air by skimming over 
the trees, shutting off his motor, and gliding along 
to the place where he wanted to stop, and then 

i Ralph Johnstone said in a conversation about experiences 
while learning to fly, "I learned to fly all right but one day when 
I was up in the air pretty high I seemed to forget all about it 
and how to operate the controls. I tried them and tested how 
they worked and it seemed to me that I learned all over again, but 
it did seem funny to me for just a few minutes." Geo. W. 
Beatty said, "When I was flying at Chicago, in the contest for 
duration, when the weather was calm, and I had nothing else to 
do but sit and think while the machine flew on, round and round, 
lap after lap, I would look out at a wire and watch it as it vi- 
brated and wonder if it was possible for it to break, while I 
realised that I could not get out to fix it. This worried me 
more than flying in a high wind. It seems more natural for me 
to fly than not to. I have been in the air on an average of two 
hours every day for over a year." 



286 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

pointing the machine up suddenly, very much as 
a bird comes to a stop, and then " pancaking " 
down, as it is called when you come down " ker- 
flop " like a pancake. 

Beachey broke a wheel by this performance and 
he has worried over that little breakage as much 
as another man would over smashing up a whole 
machine. 

Beachey flew from New York to Philadelphia 
in company with Eugene Ely and Hugh Eobinson 
in August, 1911, winning the first inter-city race to 
be held in the United States. 

Among the skilled operators of hydroaeroplanes 
is Mr. Hugh Eobinson who flew down the Missis- 
sippi Eiver in the spring of 1912, carrying mail 
and covering the river course between Minneapo- 
lis, Minn., and Eock Island, 111. Mr. Eobinson 
also went to France in May of 1912, and com- 
peted in the first contests and races ever held in 
this new sport at Monte Carlo. Since his return 
to America, Mr. Eobinson has been the instructor 
in hydroaeroplaning at Hammondsport. 



CHAPTER II 

A DESCRIPTION OF THE CURTISS BIPLANE 

NO type of aeroplane is more familiar in 
America than the Curtiss biplane. By long 
experimentation, this machine has been developed 
for practical use; and is now used for military 
purposes in Eussia, Japan, Italy, Germany, 
France, and the United States. The machine is 
of the general type known as " biplane, " in which 
there are two sets of wings, or surfaces, one being 
directly above the other. This type of machine 
seems to be the most favoured by Americans, for 
it not only allows of a greater spread of lifting 
surface for a given width of plane than in the 
monoplane, or single-wing type, but also it is 
much stronger than other machines of the same 
weight, as its design permits of a system of 
bridge-trussing known as the " Pratt Truss." 
In the Curtiss machine this feature is especially 
pronounced, because of the greater safety which 
rigid planes have when compared with the flexi- 
ble wings. 

The woodwork of these aeroplanes is entirely 
of selected spruce and ash, all the posts, beams, 
and ribs being laminated. The propeller is a par- 

287 



288 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

ticularly difficult piece of laminated work, being 
built up of from twelve to eighteen layers of thinly 
cut wood, while the upright posts of the central 
section are made up of ash and spruce, the heav- 
ier and more flexible wood forming the core. A 
feature of strength is to be found in the double 
trussing which is placed in all of the vital parts 
of the aeroplane, where the greatest strength is 
required. All this trussing is made with a cable 
of galvanised steel wire tested to withstand a 
pulling strain of nearly half a ton. 

Transportation and military use have been es- 
pecially considered in the construction of the 
planes. The upper and lower planes are made 
up of interchangeable panels, which are so joined 
together that the machine is easily assembled and 
taken apart and may be transported compactly 
in two flat boxes which scarcely make one full 
wagon load, as indicated in an illustration in this 
book. 

The wing-panels are made up with a light and 
strong wooden framework covered with cloth es- 
pecially made and treated with a rubber coating 
for the purpose. The curved ribs are laminated 
also and the panels held together by a system of 
trussing which gives them great strength. These 
panels are covered both top and bottom. 

Light and strong bamboo rods extend to the 
front of the main planes, supporting the elevator 
or forward horizontal surface, which acts as a 



BIPLANE PAETS 289 

rudder to steer upward and downward. Similar 
bamboo rods at the rear support the vertical rud- 
der and rear elevators and stabilising plane. 
Front and rear elevators work in conjunction 
with each other so that as the front of the ma- 
chine is directed up, the rear of the machine is 
depressed by the two rear elevators, called " flip- 
pers " from their resemblance to these append- 
ages of a seal or a turtle, each of which is con- 
trolled by an individual set of cables, so that if 
one should break or get out of order the other 
may be used independently. The front or rear 
elevators are sufficient to maintain the fore and 
aft balance of the machine in flight, so if any- 
thing happens to one the other will enable a safe 
landing to be made. Some aviators take off the 
front elevating plane entirely, relying solely upon 
the two rear ones for horizontal control. 

The elevators and the vertical rudder are ma- 
nipulated by a single steering post at the top of 
which is the steering wheel. Turning the wheel 
to the right or left steers the aeroplane to the 
left or to the right as a boat or an automobile is 
steered, while pushing the wheel forward directs 
the machine downward and pulling the wheel 
causes it to rise, a system of control in accord 
with the natural impulse of the operator. 

To maintain the lateral balance of the aero- 
plane, there are small movable planes, or " ailer- 
ons," attached at the ends of the main frame- 



290 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

work, midway between the upper and lower 
planes, at the rear. These ailerons are so ar- 
ranged that the front edge remains in the same 
position; while one swings upward, the other 
swings downward, at the back, thus giving an up- 
ward pressure of air on the under side of the one, 
while the other is depressed by the air which 
strikes it on top. This movement is controlled 
by a movable back to the aviator's seat or a frame 
or yoke which fits around the shoulders of the 
aviator in such a way that he moves the ailerons 
to the proper position when he leans to the high 
side of the aeroplane as it tilts and is thus able 
automatically to correct its balance. 

The motors with which the military and cross- 
country models are equipped are of the eight-cyl- 
inder " V-shaped'' type, developing sixty and 
eighty horse-power. The propeller is attached 
directly to the motor shaft, thus doing away with 
any necessity of gearing, which consumes power, 
increases the risk of breakage, and decreases re- 
liability. The speed of the motor is controlled 
by a throttle opened and closed by a movement of 
the left foot. 

The seat for the aviator is placed well forward 
of the main planes, giving him a clear view not 
only ahead, but also straight downward. On the 
military model, a passenger-seat is provided im- 
mediately beside that of the aviator, and a dual 
system of control makes it possible for either pas- 







p . 

Si-T 






s 



S i"3.. 

1 a c t! 

5 .2 

O ^.2^ 








DIAGRAM OF CURTISS MOTOR, SIDE AND FRONT VIEWS 

I, Cylinder; 2, Engine Bed; 3, Fuel Tank: 4. Oil Pan; 5, Radiator; 
6. Propeller ; 7. Crank Case : 8. Carbureter : 9. Gasoline Pipe : 10. Air Intake ; 

II. Auxiliary Air-pipe; 12, Drain Cock; 13, Water Cooling: System: 14, Gas 
Intake Pipe: 15, Rocker Arm; 16, Spring on Intake Valve; 17, Spring on 
Exhaust Valve; 18, Exhaust Port; 19, Rocker Arm Post; 20, Push Rod. 



BIPLANE PAETS 291 

senger to operate the machine independently of 
the other. 

The aeroplane is mounted upon a three-wheeled 
chassis with one skid extending from front to 
rear, the whole landing gear being built strong 
and rigid to withstand the shock of landing, the 
most dangerous part of flying. 

Elaborate tests are made of the different parts 
of the machine; the panels forming the surfaces 
are tested by loading them with gravel until they 
break and weighing the amount of gravel heaped 
upon them before they give way. These tests 
have shown a factor of safety in excess of any 
strain that could be put on the machine in the air. 

The strain on the various wires and cables is 
also measured, with a special instrument made 
for that purpose, as seen in an illustration. 
Every conceivable test has been tried which could 
give information that would lead to any improve- 
ment in strength to withstand strains, in addition 
to the complete knowledge that has come from 
actual tests under all conditions in the air, and 
on the ground itself, by expert flyers who have 
done almost everything that it is possible to do 
with the machine as far as trying to find its weak 
point is concerned. Dives almost straight down 
with abrupt turns at the end of the drop put many 
times the ordinary strain on every part. Rough 
landings also show up any lack of strength or 
fault in the design of the running gear or frame 



292 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

of the machine, especially since this machine is 
not provided with any springs or other device for 
taking up the shock of a bad landing. 



CURTISS AEROPLANE PARTS A COMPLETE LIST 1 

1, Engine Section Panel; 2, Wing Panel; 3, Wing Panel, 
Sparred Beam; 4-5, Aileron, Right & Left; 6, Tail; 7-8, 
Flipper, Right and Left; 9, Rudder; 10, Front Control, Ele- 
vator only; 11, Hydro Front Control, Elevator only; 12-13, 
Fin, Top & Bottom; 14-15, Non Skid Surface, Headless & 
Large. 

BAMBOOS 

16-17, Front, Upper, Right & Left; 18-19, Front, Lower, 
Right & Left; 20, Front Cross Tie, Headless; 21-22, Front 
Bamboo Brace, Right & Left; 23-24, Rear, Upper, Right & 
Left; 25-26, Rear, Lower, Right & Left; 27, Push Rod Bam- 
boo, 45"; 28-29, Bamboo Post, Short & Long. 

30, Full Set Rear Bamboos, Wired Complete; 31, Full Tail 
Equipment, consisting of Rear Bamboos, Posts, Tail, Rudder 
and Flippers. 

POSTS 

32, Wing Panel, %" x 23,4" x 54%"; 33, Wing Panel, %" x 
2%" x 60"; 34, Engine Section, 1%" x 2%" x 54V 2 "; 35, En- 
gine Section, 1%" x 2%" x 60". 

i To indicate the exact technical knowledge required in building 
an aeroplane, a matter quite apart from the obvious dash and 
daring of the aviator, nothing seems more adequate than to in- 
clude the list of aeroplane and motor parts. THE PUBLISHEBS. 



BIPLANE PARTS 293 

DIAGONAL ASH BRACES, FROM FRONT WHEEL TO ENGINE BED 

36-37, Diagonal Ash Brace, Tinned, Bight & Left; 38-39, 
Diagonal Ash Brace, Left & Right; 40-41, Diagonal Ash Brace, 
Tinned & Ironed, Left & Eight. 

DIAGONAL SPRUCE BRACE, FROM FRONT WHEEL TO WING PANEL 

42-43, Diagonal Spruce Brace, Left & Right; 44-45, Diag- 
onal Spruce Brace, Ironed, Left and Right; 46, Skid; 47-48, 
Engine Bed, not Tinned, Right & Left; 49-50, Engine Bed, 
Tinned, Right & Left. 

ENGINE BED POSTS. BRACES AND TUBING BRACES ABOVE LOWER 

PLANE 

51-52, Engine Bed Post, Front, Right & Left; 53-54, Engine 
Bed Post, Rear, Right & Left; 55-56, Engine Bed Brace, 
Front, Lower, Right & Left; 57-58, Engine Bed Brace, Rear, 
Lower, Right & Left; 59-60, Engine Bed Brace, Rear, Upper, 
Right & Left; 61-62, Engine Bed to Surface, Rear, Upper, 
Right & Left; 63, A Brace to Surface, Front, Upper; 64, 
Cross Tie Brace under Upper Surface; 65-66, Aileron Brace, 
Upper, Right & Left; 67-68, Aileron Brace, Lower, Right & 
Left; 69-70, Seat Post, Right & Left; 71-72, Carburetor 
Brace, Right & Left. 

CHASSIS BRACES. FORKS AND TUBING UNDER LOWER PLANE 

73, Cross Tie Rod, Lower, Under Lower Surface; 74, Long 
Span Brace, Rear Wheel to Rear Wheel; 75-76, Skid Fork, 
Right & Left; 77-79, Vertical Fork, Front & Rear, Right & 
Left; 80-81, Leader Fork, Rear, Right & Left; 82-83, M 
Brace, Right & Left; 84, Y Brace; 85, V Brace, Front, Skid 
to Diagonal; 86, V Brace Spreader and Bolt, Front; 87, 
Brace, Center, Skid to Diagonal; 88, V Brace, Center, Skid 
to Double Seat; 89, V Brace, Rear, Skid to Diagonal; 90-91, 
Combination Foot Throttle & Brake, Single & Dual. 



294 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

92, Brake Shoe; 93, Brake Shoe Hinge; 94, Brake Shoe 
Lug; 95, Brake Shoe Spring; 96, Steering Column, Single; 
97, Steering Wheel, Spider, Fork and Bolt; 98, Steering 
Wheel, Spider, Fork & Column, Assembled & Wired; 99, 
Steering Column, Dual; 100, Steering Wheel, Spider, Fork 
& Bolt, Dual; 101, Steering Wheel, Spider, Fork, Bolt & 
Column, Assembled & Wired, Dual; 102, Foot Rest; 103, 
Push Rod, Metal, with Swivel End, Dual. 

104, Seat, Single; 105, Seat with Fittings for Shoulder 
Yoke, Single; 106, Seat, Complete with Shoulder Yoke, 
Whiffle-tree Case and Whiffle-tree, Single; 107, Seat, Double; 
108, Seat with Fittings for Shoulder Yoke, Double; 109, Seat, 
Complete with Shoulder Yoke, Whiffle-tree Cases and Whiffle- 
tree, Double; 110, Seat, Passenger; 111, Seat Supporting 
Brace, Passenger; 112, Rear Beam Reinforcing Plates. 

113, Cable, % 2 "; 114, Cable, % 6 "; 115, Cable, % 2 "; 
116, Cable Casing; 117, Short Circuiting Switch; 118, 
Snaps, 3"; 119, Main Plane Socket; 120, Main Plane 
Socket, Wired Complete; 121, Main Plane Plate; 122, Aileron 
End Wire Connection; 123-124, Aileron Cross Wire Clamp 
& Clip; 125, Aileron L; 126, Aileron Post Lug; 127, Aileron 
Brace Wire Connection ; 128, Aileron Corner Wire Guide ; 129, 
Aileron Corner Pulley, 3"; 129, Aileron Pulley, 3". 

131, Bamboo Curved Rudder Wire Guide; 132, Skid Safety 
Wire Connection; 133, Copper Sleeve; 134, Tin Thimbles; 
135, Diagonal Ash Brace Iron; 136, Diagonal Spruce Brace 
Iron; 137-138, Engine Bed Post Plate & Wire Connection; 
139, Engine Bed Bolt; 140, Fin L Irons; 141, Fin Hinge; 
142-143, Front Control Bracket & L Iron; 144, Hydro Front 
Control, Brace Lug; 145-146, Hydro Front Control Support- 
ing Post, L & R; 147-148, Hydro Front Control, Supporting 
Post Lug, Left & Right; 149-150, Hydro Front Control Push 
Rod & Bracket; 151-152, Hydro Front Control Post & Diag- 
onal Brace; 153, Hydro Splash Boards. 

154-155, Flipper Post & Wedge; 156, Flipper Hinge; 157, 
Flipper Wire Guide, Straight; 158, Rudder Swivel; 159, 



BIPLANE PARTS 295 

Curved Corner Wire Guide; 160, Rudder Lever Clip; 161, 
Rudder Wire Connection; 162, Rudder Wire Guide, Curved; 
163-164, Terminals, Short & Long; 165, Turnbuckles; 166, 
Wheel, 20" x 4", Complete; 167, Wheel, 20" x 4", Less Tire; 
168-169, Wheel, 20" x 2V 2 ", Complete & Less Tire; 170, Inner 
Tube, 20" x 4"; 171, Casing, 20" x 4"; 172, Tire, 20" x 2%"; 
173, Axle. 

174, Gas Tank, to Attach to Engine Bed ; 175, Bamboo Brace 
Clip; 176, Flexible Gasoline Pipe; 177, Radiator; 178, 
Radiator Brace; 179-180, Propeller, Bolt & Tinned; 181, 
Propeller, Complete Not Tinned; 182, Cap Screw, Nickel 
Steel, % 6 -24 x 1%; 183, Cap Screw, Nickel Steel, % 6 -24 x 
2V 4 ; 184-185, Spring Washer, %, x % 6 & % 6 x %; 186, Wing 
Pontoon, Complete; 187, Pontoon Paddles; 188, Hydro Drain 
Plug; 189, Hydro Braces; 190-191, Hydro Spacing Tube & 
Bolt, Short & Long. 



CHAPTER in 

THE CURTISS MOTOR AND FACTORY 

THE history of the Curtiss motor goes back 
to the early days at Hammondsport ; it was 
the keynote of the development of the motorcycle, 
the airship, the aeroplane, and the hydro. From 
a crude single-cylinder engine used on an experi- 
mental bicycle, the motor has developed to an 
eight-cylinder engine giving over eighty horse- 
power, on which the reliability of the Curtiss 
aeroplane is dependent. Indeed, flight itself, in 
the history of the world, was delayed until the 
development of the gas engine made it possible 
to get a power that was applicable for this pur- 
pose, and one that was, at the same time, light 
enough. 

To describe the motor intelligibly to one who 
has had no acquaintanceship whatever with gas 
engines would require many chapters, but to 
those who have ever examined automobile, ma- 
rine, or other motors, the following technical data 
will give an idea of the distinctive feature of this 
aeroplane motor. 

296 



MOTOR PAETS 297 

MOTOE DESIGN AND MATEEIAL. 

Crankshaft: 

The crankshaft is supported in five bearings of 
more than ample size. It is extremely difficult, 
if not impossible, to design a shaft which will be 
light enough for aeronautical purposes, and still 
be sufficiently rigid without a special support. 
The propeller end of the shaft is supported in two 
places eleven and three-eighth inches apart, at 
one end in a plain bearing two and seven-six- 
teenth inches long and at the other in a combined 
radial and thrust ball bearing of ample size. 
This construction is stronger than is the case 
where the propeller is mounted immediately be- 
hind the last main bearing proper or even in some 
cases carried at a distance of several inches from 
the bearing without support. Any lack of me- 
chanical or thrust balance is multiplied and trans- 
mitted directly to the last crank throw, the tre- 
mendous racking and twisting strain thus 
occasioned causing ultimate failure. 

The crankshaft is made of imported Chrome- 
Nickel steel, properly heat treated. This steel, 
particularly after heat treatment, has an enor- 
mous tensile strength combined with a very high 
elastic limit and great resistance to fatigue and 
crystallisation. 

Connecting Rods: 

The connecting rods are machined from a solid 



298 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Chrome-Nickel steel forging, heat treated. The 
body of the rod is tubular, which cross section 
gives a maximum strength with minimum weight. 
Eough forging weighs five pounds; finished 
weight one pound eight ounces. 

Piston: 

The piston is long enough to give sufficient 
bearing surface to sustain the side thrust from 
the connecting rod and at the same time weighs 
but two and one-half pounds. The domed head, 
with properly placed ribs, assures strength. The 
piston pin bearing is seven-eighth inches diame- 
ter by two and three-fourth inches long. Eevers- 
ing common practice, the pin turns in the piston 
instead of the rod end, as considerable gain in 
bearing surface is thus made. 

Engineers will appreciate that with a combined 
piston and rod weight of four and one-half 
pounds, the strains from twenty-two hundred re- 
versals of motion per minute at normal speed are 
very slight. 

It has three rings together with fourteen oil 
grooves aiding the rings in retaining compression 
and assisting the oiling. All pistons are rough 
turned and then thoroughly annealed before 
grinding, to insure against warping in service. 

The piston rings are of clean springy iron, 
ground all over. As a ring must be tight on the 
sides as well as where it comes in contact with 



MOTOE PAETS "299 

the cylinder, there must not be a variation in 
width of over a quarter thousandth of an inch. 

Cylinder: 

The cylinder is symmetrical in design, insur- 
ing even expansion without distortion. 

Valve-in-the-head construction gives an efficient 
shape of combustion chamber; the compact 
charge fired in the centre giving quick, complete 
combustion, and the large valves give free ingress 
and egress for the gases. 

The water jacket is brazed to the cylinder- 
casting autogenously, the metal being a composi- 
tion of nickel and copper known as "Monel" 
metal, which is proof against corrosion. 

Cylinders are bored, ground and finished by 
lapping, to get a glass smooth surface. 

Water Circulation: 

The water circulation is so carried out that all 
cylinders are cooled equally, the water pump be- 
ing divided by a partition which passes water in 
equal quantities to each set of four, thus avoiding 
any possibility of a steam- trap on one side caus- 
ing all the water to pass through the other side. 
The pump is driven from the crankshaft by a 
floating joint. The pump shaft is made of a car- 
bon spindle steel. 

A portion of the hot water is returned through 
the carburetor water jacket, which is essential 



300 THE'CURTISS AVIATION BOOK 

with present day gasoline, particularly in cold 
weather or high altitudes. 

Lubrication: 

The lubrication is a combined circulating and 
splash oiling system. A gear driven oil pump 
submerged in the oil pan forces a constant stream 
of filtered oil through the hollow cam shaft bear- 
ing, thence to each individual cam shaft bearing, 
thence to the main crankshaft bearings whence 
it is forced through the hollow crankshaft and 
cheeks to the crank pins, the surplus replenishing 
the oil pan into which the rods dip, thus oiling 
the cylinder walls by splash and also filling oil 
pockets on each main bearing, as an additional 
insurance against their running dry. 

The pump is driven off a bevel gear integral 
with the crankshaft and is of the gear type, be- 
ing without valves or moving parts other than 
two simple spur gears. It is entirely enclosed in 
a fine mesh screen through which the oil must 
pass to reach the pump. 

Valves: 

The valves have cast-iron heads reinforced with 
a perforated steel disc embedded in the cast 
iron, the whole being electrically welded to a 
carbon steel stem. The cam shaft is hardened 
and ground and cams formed integral with the 
shaft. The cam contour is also ground, the valve 
timing being exactly the same in each cylinder. 




CURTISS MOTORS 

(A) The first Curtiss aerial motor; iised In Baldwin dirigible. (B) Motor 
used in both the "White Wing" and "Red Wing." (C) Motor of 1912 



^ -WMKfc 




AT THE AEROPLANE FACTORY, HAMMONDSPORT 

(A) Testing aeroplanes. Gravel on reversed planes tests strength ; scale shows 
wire-strain. (B) Assembly room of factory 



MOTOR PAETS 301 

Castings: 

The majority of non-moving parts, including 
the crank case, are cast of special aluminum al- 
loys. Recent laboratory tests have shown ten- 
sile strengths of as high as fifty thousand, five 
hundred pounds per square inch. 

Weight: 

The weight of model "A" motor alone is two 
hundred eighty-five pounds three and eight- 
tenth pounds per horse-power. The weight of 
power plant including propeller, radiator, and 
necessary connections is three hundred forty- 
seven pounds. 

Note that the forty horse-power cylinder mo- 
tor weighs one hundred seventy-five pounds and 
gives a thrust of three hundred ten pounds 
when equipped with a seven foot diameter by six 
foot pitch propeller turning at nine hundred 
revolutions per minute. The pitch speed of the 
propeller at this rate is in excess of a mile a 
minute. 

Gas-Consumption : 

The consumption of gas is three-fourths pint 
per horse-power per hour. The engine can be 
throttled and consumption reduced in nearly di- 
rect ratio to the horse-power developed. 

Consumption on full throttle per hour is seven 
and one-fourth gallons gasoline and one gallon of 



302 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

oil. The oil capacity of the small pan is four gal- 
lons ; of the large pan, six gallons. 

Testing and Power: 

Each engine is given an extended run with pro- 
peller load. After giving the required standing 
thrust at the proper speed, the engine is com- 
pletely torn down for inspection and carbon re- 
moved. After assembling, it is given a second 
test on a water dynamometer, which gives the 
horse-power developed. 

Miscellaneous: 

Few people realise that the aeronautical motor 
is subjected to usage equalled by few internal 
combustion engines. The average car engine is 
seldom run on full throttle for extended periods. 
The marine engine is ordinarily a very heavy, 
slow speed machine. The aeronautical motor, to 
run at the high speeds under full load demanded 
to-day, must of necessity be designed with this 
fact in mind, and particular attention paid to 
numerous weaknesses apt to develop under this 
treatment. 

Adding to the above the necessity for minimum 
weight while still retaining a sufficient factor of 
safety in all parts, it is evident that an aeronauti- 
cal motor must be designed as such and not be a 
modified edition of an automobile engine with a 
few pounds removed here and there. 



MOTOR PARTS 303 



PARTS OF CUBTISS MOTOR A COMPLETE LIST. 

1-5, Breather Pipe Cap Screw & Flange, Collar, Cap & 
Clip; 6, Ball Bearing (Radial) ; 7-8, Crank Case, Upper Half 
& Lower Half; 9-10, Crank Case Bolt, Small & Large > 11, 
Crank Shaft. 

12, Cam Shaft; 13-15, Cam Shaft Bearing, Front, Centre, 
& Rear; 16, Cam Shaft Bearing Sleeve, Rear; 17-18, Cam 
Shaft Gear & Retaining Screw; 19-20, Cam Shaft Bearing 
Clamping Screw, Centre, & Retaining Screw; 21, Cam Fol- 
lower Guide Stud; 22, Cam Follower Guide Screw; 23, Cam 
Follower; 24^25, Cam Follower Guide & Plug. 

26, Cylinder; 27, Cylinder Tie Down Yoke; 28-29, Cylinder 
Stud, Long & Short; 30, Cylinder Stud Nut; 31-32, Connect- 
ing Rod & Bolt; 33, Connecting Rod Bolt Nut; 34, Compres- 
sion Tee for Oil Pipe; 35, Compression Coupling Sleeve; 
36-37, Cable Holder & Screw; 38-39, Cable Tube & End; 40- 
41, Cable Tube Clip & Screw; 42, Carburetor Water Pipe 
Clip. 

43, Exhaust & Inlet Valve; 44, Exhaust Valve Spring; 45, 
Felt Oil Retainer for Rear Thrust Bearing; 46, Felt Oil Re- 
tainer for Magneto Gear; 47, Gasket for Intake Manifold; 
48-49, Gear Case Cover & Screw; 50, Gear Cover Packing 
Nut; 51, Half Time Gear; 52, Intake Pipe Elbow; 53, Intake 
Pipe with 2 Union Nuts ; 54r-56, Intake Pipe Y & Support Base 
& Cap; 57-62, Intake Manifold, & Bolt, Bolt Nut, Cap 
Screw, Union Nut, & Elbow Cap Screw; 63, Intake Valve 
Spring; 64, Magneto Bracket; 65, Magneto Gear; 66-67, Mag- 
neto Bracket Cap Screw, Large & Small; 68, Magneto Base 
Cap Screw. 

69, Main Bearing Stud Nut; 70, Main Bearing Stud, New; 
71-73, Main Bearing Cap, Front, Centre & Rear; 74-75, Main 
Bearing Babbitt, Front, Upper, & Lower; 76-77, Main Bear- 
ing Babbitt, Centre, Upper & Lower; 78-79, Main Bearing 
Babbitt, Rear, Upper, & Lower; 80, Main Bearing Babbitt 



304 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

Clamping Screw; 81, Main Bearing Liner, Front & Rear; 
82, Main Bearing Liner Centre; 83, Main Bearing Liners. 

84, Nipple for Oil Pump; 85-86, Oil Pump & Leader Gear 
Shaft; 87-94, Oil Pump Follower Gear, Cover, Drive Pin- 
ion, Screen, Support Bolt, Cover Screw, Follower Gear 
Bushing, & Shaft Bushing; 95, Oil Pipe for Pump; 
96-97, Oil Pump Compression Coupling & Nut; 98-99, Oil 
Sight, Base & Glass; 100-101, Oil Sight Glass Guard & Cap; 
102, Oil Splash Pan; 103, Oil Bleeder Pipe; 104, Oil Bleeder 
Pet Cock. 

105-107, Piston, Pin & Ring; 108-109, Pump Packing Nut, 
Large & Small; 110-114, Push Rod, End Bearing Pin Lock 
Screw, Spring, Spring Support, Forked End, & End 
Bearing Pin; 115, Propeller Bolt; 116-121, Rocker Arm, 
Support, Bearing Pin Set Screw, Tappet Screw, Sup- 
port Cap Screw, & Bearing Pin; 122-124, Spark Plug 
(Herz) Gasket,--& Wrench; 125-129, Thrust Bearing, End 
Clamp, Lock Ring, End Clamp Screw, End Clamp Bolt, 
End Thread Bolt Nut; 130, Valve Push Rod; 131, Valve 
Stem Washer; 132, Valve Stem Lock Washer. 

133-135, Water Jacket, Inlet Nut, & Inlet; 136, Water 
Pump; 137-140, Water Pump Shaft, Support Stud, Im- 
peller, & Driver; 141, Water Pump Friction Sleeve; 142- 
143, Water Pump Friction Washer, Front & Rear; 144-145, 
Water Pump Bushing, Front & Rear; 146, Water Pump Gas- 
ket; 147-149, Water Pump Universal Joint Member, Male, 
Female, & Spring; 150-151, Water Pipe, Right Hand, Bot- 
tom, & Left Hand, Bottom; 152, Water Pipe Outlet Elbow; 
153-156, Water Outlet Top Pipes for Cylinders. 



A VISIT TO THE FACTOBY 

A visit to the Curtiss factory is of interest to 
any one interested in machinery and there yon 
will see the latest machines of all types, from 



THE CURTISS FACTORY 305 

powerful milling machines to a delicate modern 
"Printograph" that is almost human in its man- 
ner of getting out letters and printing, for it is 
a cross between a printing press and a type- 
writer. Another unique machine is one that 
carves out propellers from a laminated block of 
wood. One arm of this machine runs over a 
model, and the other, about two feet away, ar- 
ranged to move exactly with it, and provided 
with a tool of cutting edge, forms the propeller 
blade with absolute accuracy, out of a block of 
wood placed parallel to the model. The cutting 
tool follows all the complex changes in the surface 
of the wooden propeller with the greatest ease and 
rapidity. 

The brazing room, where the oxy-hydrogen 
torch is used to braze metal parts together, and 
the room where they weld the water jackets on to 
the cylinders, are places of special interest; the 
nickel plating room, japanning room, and the 
room where painting and drying are done, almost 
complete the tour of the various departments, 
but there still remain the wood-working shop, 
boat shop, assembling rooms, where the aero- 
planes are put together and completely set up, 
and the motor testing room, where motors are 
run for whole days, ten hours at a time, driving 
an air propeller and showing on scales the 
amount of thrust given at all times. 

Here you may also see a machine to make 



306 THE CUETISS AVIATION BOOK 

" brake tests" of the motors, by which is told 
how much horse-power the motors give. This 
machine consists of a large drum with a brake 
fixed against it and cooled by water so it will not 
get too hot. This brake absorbs the energy of 
the motor, which is measured by an arrangement 
of scales and lever arms. 

There is a tremendous racket when the big mo- 
tors are running at full speed in this small room, 
and the hillside rings with the roar of their fiery 
exhaust. 

In the laboratory of the factory, where the de- 
signs and drawings are made, there is one of the 
most interesting pieces of apparatus in the whole 
plant. This is a "wind tunnel," where models 
of aeroplanes are tested and where experiments 
are tried to see what occurs in the stream of air. 
Here tests are made which assist in determining 
what the best form and shape of objects such as 
upright posts and exposed parts shall be and 
where a measure of their relative resistances may 
be made. The tunnel itself consists of a square 
box with a propeller or fan mounted at one end 
to create a draft or current of air which passes 
through a screen to cause it to assume uniform 
motion. There is a window in the tunnel 
through which the observer can see the action of 
the objects to be tested. Varying the speed of 
the fan varies the speed of the air current and its 
pressure, and in this manner the stream-lines of 



THE CURTISS FACTOEY 307 

air under the varying conditions and the effect 
upon models of different forms and shapes may 
be studied to enable refinements to be made in 
the aeroplane's construction. 

Down on the shore of Lake Keuka, about a half 
mile from the factory, are the aeroplane sheds 
and the flying field. Here is where the aviation 
school is situated, and where flyers are made. 
Over the smooth field, the pupils start with the 
four-cylinder " grass cutters," or machines hob- 
bled so they cannot get but a little way off the 
ground. They hop, hop, hop, almost all day long, 
one after the other taking regular turns, and now 
and again varying the monotony by being called 
away by the flying instructor to take a real flight 
in the hydroaeroplane out over the lake to get 
accustomed to the upper air, and to the high speed 
of the big machine. 

Later in his course of instruction, the student 
takes out an eight-cylinder machine and flies 
around in circles over the field until he is able to 
take the test for his Aero Club of America Li- 
cense, which requires him to make two series of 
figure eights around two pylons fifteen hundred 
feet apart, landing each time within one hundred 
and fifty feet of a mark and rising to an altitude 
greater than two hundred feet. 

This is the goal of the novice, and after his test, 
the student is ready to fly as far and as fast as 
he likes. He has become the complete airman. 



RETURN CIRCUI 
TO 202 M 

LOAN PERIOD 1 

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LATION DEPART 

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