Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930) originally worked as a bicycle messenger before later becoming a bicycle shop owner. His work on bicycles led to an interest in motorcycles. Not only did he design his own motorcycles, but he also raced them. In 1907, Curtiss became the "fastest man on earth" using his V8 powered motorcycle. At the same time, he was also manufacturing engines for airplanes and other flying machines. In 1908, his "June Bug" won the Scientific American Trophy. A couple years later, he made the first long distance flight in America from Albany to New York City with one stop and won the Scientific American Trophy again. Eventually, he created the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company which built aircrafts used by the U.S. Army and Navy during World War I and World War II. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|August 3, 1904||Curtiss’s motor powers the “California Arrow,” the first successful blimp in America.|
|September 30, 1907||The Aerial Experiment Association is formed.|
|July 4, 1908||Curtiss flies the “June Bug” 5,080 feet to win the Scientific American Trophy and a reward of $2,500.|
|August 29, 1909||Curtiss wins the Gordon Bennett trophy at the first international air race in Rheims, France by a margin of six seconds.|
|May 29, 1910||Curtiss flies from Albany, NY to New York City, becoming the first person in the US to fly long-distance between two major cities. He is awarded $10,000 as well as permanent possession of the Scientific American Trophy.|
|February, 1911||Curtiss introduces the “Triad,” the world’s first successful amphibious plane. Summer 1914: Curtiss collaborates with John Cyril Porte to develop a “flying boat.” Following the outbreak of WWI, these “flying boats” are widely used for anti-submarine patrolling.|