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Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, Ltd
Industry Manufacturing
Fate Merged
Founded January 1916
Headquarters Buffalo, New York
Number of locations
Key people
Glenn H. Curtiss
founder & president
Products Aircraft
Revenue US$1,566 million
Number of employees
21,000 (1916)

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was an American aircraft manufacturer formed in 1916 by Glenn Hammond Curtiss. After significant commercial success in the 'teens and 20s, it merged with the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in 1929.


  • History 1
    • Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company 1.1
    • Curtiss-Wright Corporation 1.2
    • Curtiss Aviation School 1.3
    • Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station 1.4
  • Products 2
    • Aircraft 2.1
    • Other types of aircraft 2.2
    • Aircraft engines 2.3
    • Helicopters 2.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4
    • Notes 4.1
    • Bibliography 4.2
  • External links 5


Curtiss-Herring flying machine photographed in Mineola, New York.

In 1907, Glenn Curtiss was recruited by the scientist Dr.

Preceded by
Curtiss Aeroplane Company
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Succeeded by
Curtiss-Wright Corporation
  • The Curtiss Company: U.S. Centennial of Flight Commemoration
  • History of the Aerospace Industry in Buffalo, NY

External links

  • Roseberry, C.R. Glenn Curtiss: Pioneer of Flight. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1972. ISBN 0-8156-0264-2.
  • Studer, Clara. Sky Storming Yankee: The Life of Glenn Curtiss. New York: Stackpole Sons, 1937.
  • Bell, Dana, ed. Directory of Airplanes, their Designers and Manufacturers. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2002. ISBN 1-85367-490-7.
  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Casey, Louis S. Curtiss, The Hammondsport Era, 1907-1915. New York: Crown Publishers, 1981. ISBN 978-0-517543-26-9.
  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55750-939-5.
  • Mondey, David, ed., revised and updated by Michael Taylor. The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Greenwich Editions, 2000. ISBN 0-86288-268-0.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1979. ISBN 0-07-082778-8.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, Vol. 1. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: CANAV Books, 2008. ISBN 978-0-921022-19-0.
  • Molson, Ken M. and Harold A. Taylor. Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Stittsville, Ontario: Canada's Wings, Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-920002-11-0.
  • Sobel, Robert. The Age of Giant Corporations: A Microeconomic History of American Business, 1914–1970. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972. ISBN 0-8371-6404-4.


  1. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 4–5.
  2. ^ Milberry 1979, p 13.
  3. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 36–37.
  4. ^ a b Gunston 1993, p. 87.
  5. ^ Bell 2002, p. 87.
  6. ^ Casey 1981, p. 37.
  7. ^ Mondey and Taylor 2000, p. 197.
  8. ^ Molson and Taylor 1982, p. 23.
  9. ^ "Patent thickets and the Wright Brothers". 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2009-03-07. In 1917, as a result of a recommendation of a committee formed by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (The Honorable Franklin D. Roosevelt), an aircraft patent pool was privately formed encompassing almost all aircraft manufacturers in the United States. The creation of the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association was crucial to the U.S. government because the two major patent holders, the Wright Company and the Curtiss Company, had effectively blocked the building of any new airplanes, which were desperately needed as the United States was entering World War I. 
  10. ^ "The Wright Brothers, Patents, and Technological Innovation". Retrieved 2009-03-07. This unusual arrangement could have been interpreted as a violation of antitrust law, but fortunately it was not. It served a clear economic purpose: preventing the holder of a single patent on a critical component from holding up creation of an entire aircraft. Practically, the pool had no effect on either market structure or technological advances. Speed, safety, and reliability of US made airplanes improved steadily over the years the pool existed (up to 1975). Over that time several firms held large shares of the commercial aircraft market: Douglas, Boeing, Lockheed, Convair, and Martin, but no one of them dominated it for very long. 
  11. ^ "THE CROSS-LICENSING AGREEMENT". Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  12. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 103, 123–124, 134–136, 174–175.
  13. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 176–179.
  14. ^ Casey 1981, p. 196.
  15. ^ "The Humble WWI Biplane That Helped Launch Commercial Flight". Wired. 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  16. ^ Rosenberry 1972, p. 429.
  17. ^ Studer 1937 p. 352
  18. ^ "Curtiss R3C-2." Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: February 10, 2010.
  19. ^ "New Plane May Fly Straight Up In The Air." Popular Science, September 1930.
  20. ^ Long Branch



See also


Aircraft engines

Other types of aircraft



Glenn H. Curtiss sponsored 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. Many civilian students, including Canadians, later became famed WW1 flyers. Victor Carlstrom, Vernon Castle, Eddie Stinson and Gen Billy Mitchell trained here. The school was disbanded in 1922.

Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station

Curtiss also operated an aviation/flying school at Long Branch Aerodrome in Mississauga, Ontario from 1915 to 1917 before being taken over by the Royal Flying Corps.[20]

Curtiss Aviation School

On July 5, 1929, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation, together with 11 other Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies. One of the last projects started by Curtiss Aeroplane was the ambitious Curtiss-Bleecker SX-5-1 Helicopter, a design that had propellers located midpoint on each of the four large rotors that drove the main rotors. The design, while costly and well engineered, was a total failure.[19]

Curtiss-Wright Corporation

Piloted by U.S. Army Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis, a Curtiss R3C won the Pulitzer Trophy Race on October 12, 1925, at a speed of 248.9 miles per hour (400.6 km/h).[18] Thirteen days later, Jimmy Doolittle won the Schneider in the same aircraft fitted with floats. Doolittle finished first with a top speed of 232.573 miles per hour (374.290 km/h).

Curtiss seaplanes won the Schneider Cup in two consecutive races, those of 1923 and 1925. The 1923 race was won by U.S. Navy Lieutenant David Rittenhouse flying a Curtiss C.R.3 to 177.266 miles per hour (285.282 km/h).

Peace brought cancellation of wartime contracts. In September 1920, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company underwent a financial reorganization and Glenn Curtiss cashed out his stock in the company for $32 million and retired to Florida.[16] He continued as a director of the company but served only as an advisor on design. Clement M. Keys gained control of the company and it later became the nucleus of a large group of aviation companies.[17]

The Curtiss HS-2L flying boat was used extensively in the war for anti-submarine patrols. Bases were built in Nova Scotia, Canada, France and Portugal for the purpose. The Royal Navy and Curtiss worked together to design flying boats; this culminated with the NC-4, the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1919. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world during World War I, employing 18,000 in Buffalo and 3,000 in Hammondsport, New York. Curtiss produced 10,000 aircraft during that war, and more than 100 in a single week.

Curtiss military aircraft being tested in College Park, Maryland circa 1912

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company worked with the United States' British and Canadian allies, so JN-4s were built in Canada, and many were used as trainers in England.[14] In order to complete the large military orders for the JN-4, production shifted to as many as five other manufacturers. After the war, many of the JN-4s were sold as surplus, making it influential as a first plane for many interwar pilots, including Amelia Earhart.[15] The plane was also featured on the famous "inverted Jenny" stamp.

Curtiss was instrumental in the development of U.S. Naval Aviation by providing training for pilots and providing aircraft. The first major order was for 144 various subtypes of the Model F trainer flying boat.[4] In 1914, Curtiss had lured B. Douglas Thomas from Sopwith to design the Model J trainer, which led to the JN-4 two-seat biplane trainer (known affectionately as the "Jenny").[12][13]

In 1917, the two major aircraft patent holders, the Patent pool), the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association.[9][10][11]

With the onset of World War I, military orders rose sharply, and Curtiss needed to expand quickly. In 1916, the company moved its headquarters and most manufacturing activities to Buffalo, New York, where there was far greater access to transportation, manpower, manufacturing expertise, and much needed capital. An ancillary operation was begun in Toronto, Ontario that was involved in both production and training, setting up the first flying school in Canada in 1915.[8]

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was created on January 13, 1916 from the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York and Curtiss Motor Company of Bath, New York. Burgess Company of Marblehead, Massachusetts, became a subsidiary in February 1916.[7]

Curtiss 160 hp Reconnaissance Bi-plane (1918)

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

In 1909, the AEA was disbanded[3] and Curtiss formed the Herring-Curtiss Company with Augustus Moore Herring on March 20, 1909,[4] which was renamed the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910.[5][6]

[2] According to Bell, it was a "co-operative scientific association, not for gain but for the love of the art and doing what we can to help one another."[1]

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