Port Washington Aviation History

Bold & Daring Fliers

Curtiss Sail Plane in Flight, September 13, 1922

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On September 6, 1922 Glenn H. Curtiss successfully flew his sail plane for the first time, in Manhasset Bay.  The plane had no motor and relied on wind and a tow-boat to bring it up to speed.  This photograph was taken of the plane just a week later!

We found an article that appeared in the New York Times on September 7, 1922, reporting on Glenn H. Curtiss’s first successful flight with the “sail plane” on September 6!  To read the entire article, click here to download the PDF.  Otherwise, here are some highlights:

SAIL PLANE STAYS ALOFT 9 SECONDS

After four disappointing attempts to fly his recently developed glider, or sail plane, as he terms it, over Manhasset Bay, near Port Washington, L. I., yesterdary, Glenn H. Curtiss, pioneer in American aeronautics, unexpectedly made a sustained flight lasting nine seconds while the plane was being towed by a speed boat back to the hangar.

“This is the first step in sea soaring,” said Mr. Curtiss . . . “We must pattern after the albatross, which takes off from a wave and soars immediately.  To keep soaring, we must have knowledge of the variations of air currents over the water.”

. . . The glider is an exact copy on a small scale of the N. C. boats built by the Curtiss Company for the navy.  Constructed of duraluminum, a light metal, with spruce struts and silk fabric covered wings, the glider has a wing spread of 28 feet, a length over all of 24 feet, and a height of 7 feet.  Its weight empty is 140 pounds.

Mr. Curtiss said that the tests yesterday had opened up…the possibility of using a sail plane as a trailer for a flying boat, forming what might be termed an air train.

Billy Bomar Hanging by His Hands, c. 1925

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Typical of the air thrills at the time is Billy Bomar hanging by his hands from a strut of a New Standard over Manhattan.

Photo from the collection of Frank Strnad.

Wing Walkers on a Waco 10, 1929

ovakinney_strndFor women as much as men, the lure of flight was potent.  Miss Ova Kinney, on left, is one of two wing walkers on a Waco 10 flown by Paul Rizzo over Barren Island Airport, now part of the Gateway National Recreation area, 1929.

Photo from the collection of Frank Strnad.