Born May 21: Glenn Curtiss
By Michael Baadke
Engineer, business leader and aviation pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss was born May 21, 1878, in Hammondsport, N.Y.
At age 19 he married Lena Pearl Neff, and in 1900 he opened a bicycle shop. Curtiss developed an interest in motorcycle production and in 1907 he set a land speed record on a motorcycle of more than 136 miles per hour.
One of his motorcycle engines was used to power a dirigible in 1904, and Curtiss was soon involved in airplane development as part of the Aerial Experiment Association.
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In 1910 Curtiss set a distance record by piloting his Curtiss Hudson Flyer for 134 miles. The Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” was produced during World War I, and appeared on the first U.S. airmail stamps, issued in 1918 (Scott C1-C3).
Curtiss also developed “flying boats” and founded a successful aircraft company bearing his name. He died in 1930 following surgery for appendicitis.
Glenn Curtiss was honored on a 35¢ airmail stamp issued Dec. 30, 1980 (Scott C100).
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