Glenn Curtiss was an aviation pioneer who went on to form his own aircraft company. He was born in Hammondsport, New York, on May 21, 1878. As a teenager, he enjoyed building gasoline engines for the motorcycles that he raced. In 1907, he became known as the "Fastest Man on Earth" when he set a motorcycle speed record of 136.3 miles per hour (219.4 kilometers per hour).
Curtiss' motorcycle engines were so light and powerful that the balloonist Thomas Baldwin, asked Curtiss to build an engine for use on Baldwin's airship. This airship became the first powered dirigible in the United States. Other balloonists soon followed Baldwin's lead and turned to Curtiss for engines for their airships. One of his engines powered the first U.S. Army aircraft—the dirigible SC-1.
Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, founded the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) in 1907, which designed and built several aircraft. One of the aircraft built by the AEA was the first American aircraft to be equipped with ailerons, the White Wing. The invention of the aileron led to a protracted patent fight between Curtiss and the Wright brothers. The AEA also built the first seaplane to be flown in the United ... read more