8419 State Rd.
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Glenn H. Curtiss born Hammondsport 1878
Early maker of motorcycle and airplane engines – flew successfully airplanes and hydroplanes here 1908 – 1911
A second marker located within approximately 100 yards of this one, reads:
Cradle of Aviation
Here Glenn H. Curtiss piloted “The June Bug” July 4. 1908
First kilometer flight
Marker 1: State Education Department — 1957
Marker 2: State Education Department — 1932
What was there
Curtiss was born in the village of Hammondsport on May 21, 1878 and died in Buffalo, NY on July 23, 1930. Buried in Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Hammondsport, NY.
Glenn Curtiss’ interests began much the same as the Wright brothers’. He began as a bicycle racer and a bicycle shop owner in the Hammondsport area in the late 1800s. Eventually he would take that interest toward motorcycles, and would develop and invent his own designs and would produce motorcycle engines. In 1906, he created a V-8 powered motorcycle which on January 24, 1907 set a land speed record on Ormond Beach, Florida of 136 miles an hour and change! The story goes that he was so frightened by riding this creation and setting this record that he never rode this motorcycle ever again. To this day one of his motorcycle inventions is still true to every motorcycle currently produced and that is the twist grip throttle!
Around the 1900 time interval, Glenn Curtiss became interested in inventing and manufacturing a variety of aviation combustion engines, one of which was used in the first successful dirigible manufactured in the United States.
Later, inventor Alexander Graham Bell invited Glenn Curtiss to invent a powerful enough engine to be used at that time for “heavier than air aviation” experiments, and later was invited to join Bell’s “Aerial Experiment Association”. Through this association, four aircraft of different designs were made including one piloted by Glenn Curtiss himself. That particular aircraft named the “June Bug”, later went on to win a number of very early aviation awards. Glenn Curtiss actually received the first pilot’s license # 1, from the Aero Club of America.
Sometime later Glenn Curtiss was inspired by the United States government that aircraft could be used as a tool of war. He taught early aviation to Army pilots, and was involved in early naval aviation design and experiments. He is considered even to this day “the father of naval aviation.”
Shortly after WWI, Glenn Curtiss’ companies went into a financial re-organization process, and at that time Curtiss cashed out his stock and eventually moved to the state of Florida.
What is there now
The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is located here. Within this museum there are many original innovations and inventions of Glenn Curtiss. Items on display include original aircraft, motorcycles, reciprocating engines for both aircraft and motorcycles, and many common items that once belonged to Glenn Curtiss.
Throughout the year there are events that the public is encouraged to watch and enjoy.
- Glenn H. Curtiss Museum website
- Glenn Curtiss – Wikipedia
- Curtiss is credited with making the first officially witnessed flight in North America.
- Curtiss’ experiments with seaplanes led to the use of aircraft by the US Navy.
- Died in Buffalo, NY in 1930 and buried in Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Hammondsport, NY.
We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry:
Howard Fritzke Jr.