Glenn Curtiss – An All American Bad Ass!

Before Elon Musk…Before Steve Jobs…Before even the Wright Brothers took flight, the whole world was fascinated by one daredevil of a genius inventor…Glenn Hammond Curtiss.

Today, the modern mini van can exceed 100mph on the Florida Turnpike without a sweat.  (Not that you should ever do that!)  But imagine doing 136 miles per hour, on what’s basically a bicycle with an 8 cylinder engine, on the beach!  That’s the feat that legendary pioneer, Glenn Curtiss achieved back in 1907 and officially made him “The Fastest Man on Earth!”

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Below you’ll find a series of videos depicting Glenn Curtiss’ incredible contributions to man, as well, as South Florida.



Glenn Curtiss Timeline

  • Born on May 21, 1878 Birth in Hammondsport, New York
  • 1898 Marriage
  • 1900 Manufactures Hercules bicycles
  • 1901 Motorcycle designer and racer
  • 1903 American motorcycle champion
  • 1903 Unofficial one-mile motorcycle land speed record 64 mph (103 km/h) on Hercules V8 at Yonkers, New York[30]
  • 1904 Thomas Scott Baldwin mounts Curtiss motorcycle engine on a hydrogen-filled dirigible
  • 1904 Set 10-mile world speed record
  • 1904 Invented handlebar throttle control;[31] handlebar throttle control also credited to the 1867–1869 Roper steam velocipede[32][33]
  • 1905 Created G.H. Curtiss Manufacturing Company, Inc.
  • 1906 Curtiss writes the Wright brothers offering them an aeronautical motor
  • 1907 Curtiss joins Alexander Graham Bell in experimenting in aircraft
  • 1907 Set world motorcycle land speed record of 77.6 mph (124.9 km/h)[34]
  • 1907 Set world motorcycle land speed record at 136.36 mph (219.45 km/h) in his V8 motorcycle in Ormond Beach, Florida[34]
    • Becomes known at the “Fastest Man on Earth!”
  • 1908 First Army dirigible flight with Curtiss as flight engineer
  • 1908 One of several claimants for the first flight of an aircraft controlled by ailerons
  • 1908 Lead designer and pilot of “June Bug” on July 4
  • 1909 Sale of Curtiss’s “Golden Flyer” to the New York Aeronautic Society for $5,000.00 USD, marks the first sale of any aircraft in the U.S., triggers Wright Brothers lawsuits.
  • 1909 Won first international air speed record with 46.5 mph (74.8 km/h) in RheimsFrance
  • 1909 First U.S. licensed aircraft manufacturer.
  • 1909 Established first flying school in United States and exhibition company
  • 1910 Long distance flying record of 150 miles (240 km) from Albany, New York to New York City
  • 1910 First simulated bombing runs from an aircraft at Lake Keuka
  • 1910 First firearm use from aircraft, piloted by Curtiss
  • 1910 First radio communication with aircraft in flight in a Curtiss biplane
  • 1910 Curtiss moved to California and set up a shop and flight school at the Los Angeles Motordrome, using the facility for sea plane experiments
  • 1910 Trained Blanche Stuart Scott, the first American female pilot
  • 1910 First successful takeoff from a United States Navy ship (Eugene Burton Ely, using Curtiss Plane)
  • 1911 First landing on a ship (Eugene Burton Ely, using Curtiss Plane) (2 Months later)
  • 1911 The Curtiss School of Aviation, established at Rockwell Field in February

Glenn H. Curtiss’s pilot license

  • 1911 Pilot license #1 issued for his June Bug flight
  • 1911 Ailerons patented
  • 1911 Developed first successful pontoon aircraft in US
  • 1911 Hydroplane A-1 Triad purchased by US. Navy (US Navy’s first aircraft)
  • 1911 Developed first retractable landing gear on his hydroaeroplane
  • 1911 His first aircraft sold to U.S. Army on April 27
  • 1911 Created first military flying school
  • 1912 Developed and flew the first flying boat on Lake Keuka
  • 1912 First ship catapult launching on October 12 (Lt. Ellyson)[35]
  • 1912 Created the first flying school in Florida at Miami Beach
  • 1914 Curtiss made a few short flights in the Langley Aerodrome, as part of an unsuccessful attempt to bypass the Wright Brothers’ patent on aircraft
  • 1915 Start production run of “Jennys” and many other models including flying boats
  • 1915 Curtiss started the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station on a 20-acre tract east of Newport News (VA) Boat Harbor in the Fall of 1915 with Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin as head.
  • 1917 Opens “Experimental Airplane Factory” in Garden City, Long Island
  • 1919 Curtiss NC-4 flying boat crosses the Atlantic
  • 1919 Commenced private aircraft production with the Oriole
  • 1921 Developed Hialeah, Florida, including Hialeah Park Race Track
  • 1921 Donated his World War I training field to the Navy
    • Miami-Opa locka Airport was founded by Glenn Curtiss in 1927 on the grounds of what used to be his Florida Aviation Camp. Mr. Curtiss gave his Florida Aviation Camp to the US Navy shortly before his early death in 1930. Miami-Opa locka Airport was part of U.S. Navy Training Command during WW II and the hub of 6 Naval training bases. Amelia Earhart took off on her ill-fated around the World Flight attempt in 1937 from former “Miami Municipal Airport” located near the Airport’s main entrance. Numerous historic aircraft and buildings still remain on site. U.S. Navy Dirigible “Akron” crashed in a thunderstorm on its 1933 return flight North after leaving Miami-Opa locka. In the Cold War era, Miami-Opa locka Airport played a part in both military and civilian efforts, including the infamous Black Flights to Guatemala in the 1950s, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Airport served as the Miami Naval Air Station and Miami Marine Corps Air Station during the Korean War. In early 1962, the deed for the airport was signed and the transfer to the County and the Miami-Dade Aviation Department was completed. In 1967 Opa-locka was the World’s busiest airport with over 650,000 flight operations. In 2014, Opa-locka Airport was changed to Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport. To date, it still has a military presence with the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, which houses the World’s Busiest Air/Sea Rescue Station.
  • 1922 Opened Hialeah Park Race Track with his business partner James H. Bright
  • 1923 Developed Miami Springs, Florida and created a flying school and airport


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