Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He was born in 1878 in Hammondsport, New York to Frank Richmond Curtiss and Lua Andrews.
Curtiss married Lena Pearl Neff, daughter of Guy L. Neff, in Hammondsport on on March 7, 1898.
As a bicycle racer, Western Union bicycle messenger and bicycle shop owner Curtiss, as the internal combusion engine became available, became interested in motorcycles. He began manufacturing motor-bicycles with his own single cylinder internal combustion engines, the first with a tomato can for a carburetor. In 1903 he set a world speed record by averaging 64 mph (103 km/h) for one mile (1.6 km). In 1907 he set a new record of 136.27 mph (219.31 km/h), with his 40-hp V8 powered motorcyle of his own design. At this time he was America's No. 1 maker of high-performance motorcycles.
In August 1906, while with Tom Baldwin and his airship in Dayton, Curtiss visited the Wright brothers (after they'd help corrall their airship) and discussed aeronautical motors and their propellers, a subject of mutual interest. Because Curtiss made America's finest lightweight motors, Alexander Graham Bell persuaded him to join his Aerial Experiment Association in 1907 to build aircraft, succeeding with America's first public and official airplane flight on July 4, 1908.
In August 1909, Curtiss competed in the world's first air meet, the Grande Semaine d'Aviation flying contest at Reims, France, organised by the Aero-Club de France. The Wrights, selling their machines in Berlin at the time, did not compete, but nevertheless sued Curtiss, alleging their patent was being infringed. He continued, completing a 10 km course at 46.5 mph (75 km/h) in just under 16 minutes, 6 seconds faster than runner-up Louis Bleriot and won the Gordon Bennett Cup. For this he became, after Bleriot, the No. 2 pilot in Europe (Wrights Nos. 14 and 15).
The other Pulitzer prize
On May 29, 1910, Curtiss flew from Albany, New York, along the Hudson River, to New York City, to win a $10,000 prize backed by publisher Joseph Pulitzer. He covered 137 miles (220 km) in 153 minutes, averaging nearly 55 mph (89 km/h), then flew over Manhattan Island, and circled the Statue of Liberty. Curtiss received the first U.S. pilot's license in 1911, the Wrights were Nos. 4 and 5.
The patent dispute with the Wright brothers continued for several years until it was resolved during WW1, just after Wright ceased making airplanes due to their "killer" reputation (the last Wright was a single copy, made in 1916).
World War I
- 1878 Birth in Hammondsport, New York
- 1898 Marriage
- 1900 Manufactures Hercules bicycles
- 1901 Motorcycle designer and racer
- 1903 1st American motorcycle champion at 56.4 sec/mile
- 1904 Thomas Scott Baldwin mounts Curtiss motorcycle engine on a hydrogen-filled dirigible
- 1904 Set ten mile world speed record
- 1904 Invented handlebar throttle control
- 1905 G.H. Curtiss Manufacturing Company, Inc. created
- 1905 Set world speed records for 1, 2, and 3 miles
- 1906 Curtiss writes the Wright brothers offering them an aeronautical motor, and meets them - by chance - three months later.
- 1907 Curtiss joins Alexander Graham Bell in experimenting in aircraft
- 1907 Set world speed record of 77.6 mph
- 1907 Set world speed record at 136.36 mph in his V8 motorcycle
- 1908 Lead designer and pilot of "June Bug"
- 1908 Flight engineer for 1st Army dirigible trial
- 1909 Produced and sold first private aircraft in US
- 1909 Won first international air speed record with 46.5 mph in Reims, France
- 1910 Long distance flying record of 150 miles from Albany to New York City
- 1910 Flying School and Exhibition Company
- 1910 Trained Blanche Stuart Scott, the first American female pilot
- 1911 Pilot license #1 for his "June Bug" flight
- 1911 First successful pontoon aircraft in US
- 1911 Hydroaeroplane A-1 purchased by USN
- 1911 First dual pilot control
- 1911 First retractable landing gear on his Hydroaeroplane
- 1911 His first aircraft sold to US Army on April 27th
- 1912 Developed and flew the first flying boat on Lake Keuka
- 1914 to 1918 Produced 6,000 "Jennys"
- 1919 Curtiss NC-4 flying boat crosses the Atlantic
- 1919 Commenced private aircraft production with the Oriole
- 1921 Developed Hialeah, Florida
- 1923 Developed Miami Springs, Florida (named in 1930)
- 1926 Developed Opa-Locka, Florida
- 1930 Death
Selected coverage in Time magazine
- Time, October 29, 1923, "Speed Limit"
- Time, October 13, 1924, "At Dayton"
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