THE time has come when the world is going to need a new type of menalmost a new race. These are the Flying Men. The great dream of centuries has come true, and man now has the key to the sky. Every great invention which affects the habits and customs of a people brings about changes in the people themselves. How great, then, must be the changes to be brought about by the flying machine, and how strangely new the type of man that it carries up into a new world, under absolutely new conditions!
Each year there will be more need of flying men; so that in telling this story of a pioneer American aviator, his struggles, failures, and sucesses, it has been the desire to keep in mind not only the scientific elders who are interested in angles of incidence, automatic stability and the like, but also the boys and girlsthe air pilots of the future. It is hoped that there will be in these introductory chaptersfor whose writing, be it understood, Mr. Curtiss is not responsible a plain unvarnished story of an American boy who worked his way upward from the making of bicycles to the making of history, an inspiration for future flights, whether in imagination or aeroplanes, and that even the youngest reader will gain courage to meet the obstacles and to overcome the difficulties which Glenn H. Curtiss met and overcame in his progress to fame.
Here is a man who is a speed marvelwho has beat the world at it. First on land, riding a motorcycle, next in a flying machine, and finally in a machine that was both water and air craft, which sped over the surface of the sea faster than man had ever travelled on that element, and which rose into the air and came back to land with the speed of the fastest express train; a man who traveled at the rate of one hundred and thirty- seven miles an hour on land, fifty-eight miles an hour on the water and who won the first International speed championship in the air.
More than that, they may see what sort of a: boy came to be the speed champion and to know some of the traits that go to make the successful airman, for it is said of the great aviators, as of the great poets, they are born flying men, and not developed. The successful flying man and maker of flying machines, such as Glenn H. Curtiss has shown himself to be, realises how dangerous is failure, and builds slowly. He builds, too, on his experience gained from day to day; having infinite patience and dogged perseverance. And yet a great aviator must be possessed of such marvelous quickness of thought that he can think faster than the forces of nature can act, and he must act as fast as he thinks.
He must be so completely in harmony with Nature and her moods that he can tell just when is the right time to attempt a dangerous experiment, and so thoroughly in control of himself that he can refuse to make the experiment when he knows it should not be made, even though urged by all those around him to go ahead. He must feel that nothing is impossible, and yet he must not attempt anything until he is sure that he is ready and every element of danger has been eliminated, so far as lies in human power. He must realise that he cannot change the forces of nature, but that he can make them do his work when he understands them. Some of these qualities must be inbred in the man, but the life- story of Glenn H. Curtiss shows how far energy, courage, and tireless perseverance will go toward bringing them out.
It is from among the country boys that the best aviators will be found to meet the demands of the coming Flying Age. They have been getting ready for it for a long timelong before the days of Darius Green Does any one now read "Phaeton Rogers," that story of the inventive boy back in the eighties, and recall the "wind-wagon" which was one of his many inventions, There were many like him then, and there are more like him now; always tinkering at something, trying to make it "go," and go fast. And there are many of these who are building up, perhaps without knowing it, the strong body, the steady brain, courage, perseverance, and the power of quick decisionthe character of the successful airmen of the future.
The history of aviation is very brief, expressed in years. In effort it covers centuries. First come the inventors, a calm, cautious type of men, holding their ideas so well in trust that they will not risk their lives for mere display and the applause of the crowd. Then the exploiters, eager for money and fame; men who develop the possibilities of the machines, always asking more and getting more in the way of achievement with each new model built. Though covering a period of less than a half score of years, aviation already has its second generation of flyers, pupils trained by the pioneers, young and ambitious, eager to explore the new element that has been made possible by their mentors. From the country districts, where the blood is red, the brain steady and the heart strong, will come many an explorer of the regions of the air. Just as the city boy in developing the wireless telegraph strings his antennae on the housetops and the roofs of the giant skyscrapers, so will the country boy develop his glider or his aeroplane in the pasture lands and on the steep hillsides of his own particular territory, and we shall have a race of flying men to carry on the development of the flying machine until it shall reach that long dreamed of and fought-for perfection.
GLENN HAMMOND CURTISS was born at Hammondsport, New York, May 21, 1878. His middle name shows his connection with the pioneer family for which the town is named. Then Hammondsport was a port for canal boats that came up Lake Keuka; nowadays it is an airport for the craft of the sky. It is a quaint little town, lying on the shores of a beautiful lake that stretches away to Penn Yann, twenty miles to the north. Glenn's old home was called Castle Hill. It was nearly surrounded by vineyards and fruit trees. It was once the property of Judge Hammond, who built the first house in Hammondsport. On this site now stands the Curtiss factories.
All about Hammondsport are the great vineyards that have made the town famous for its wine, for Hammondsport is in the very heart of the grape-growing section of New York State. These vineyards give the boys of Hammondsport a fine opportunity to earn money each year, and Glenn was always among those who spent the vacation cation time in tying up grape vines, and in gathering the fruit on Saturdays and at other odd times.
Some of the neighbours' children picked wintergreen and flowers, and sold them to the summer; excursionists. One time Glenn was invited to go with them. He sold six bunches for sixty cents. His mother applied the amount toward a pair of shoes in order to teach him the use and value of money. He was then three years old and wore a fresh white dress and a blue sash.
Glenn was afterwards taught how to prune and tie vines and gather fruit and at harvest time he was often seen with pony and wagon making a fast run to the station to get the last load of grapes on the train.
With the care of his sister and the work on the home vineyard, life was not all play, for Glenn was "The Man of the House," after his father's death, which occurred when he was four years old. At this time, he went with his mother and sister, to live with his grandmother who lived on the outskirts of the village.
Hammondsport is divided by the main street, and the boys of the two sections, like the boys in cities, were always at war. The factional lines were tightly drawn and many were the combats between the up-town boys and the low-town boys. The hill boys had a den in the side of a bank that sloped down from Grandma Curtiss' yard, walled in with stones of a convenient size. This gave them good ammunition and a great advantage in time of battle.
Among the members of the up-town gang were, "Fatty" Hastings and "Short" Wheeler, "Jess" Talmadge and "Cowboy" Wixom and Curtley, as the boys called Curtiss. He was captain of the band, because he had a sort of ownership of the den. Thus the war waged until one day they punctured Craton Wheeler's dog "Pickles," which so infuriated the enemy of the lower village that they were on the point of storming the fort in the hillside from above, and would no doubt have done BO had they not chanced to trample upon Grandma Curtiss' flower beds which caused this indignant lady to issue forth and put the entire gang to rout. The cave continued to be a safe refuge for the hillside gang until "Fatty" Hastings grew too big to squeeze through the entrance and sometimes got stuck just as the gang was ready to sally forth against the enemy, or blocked the whole crew when they were in retreat.
During the winter months Glenn gave his hand to making skate-sails, and became very proficient at it, and when summer came and the boys went on bird-nesting excursions in the woods, he was usually the daring one who allowed himself to be lowered by a rope over the cliff's edge or climbed to the topmost limbs of the big hickory trees. At school, mathematics was young Curtiss's strong point, and when finally he came to pass his final examinations in the high school, he topped his class in that study with a perfect score of one hundred, and in Algebra he stood ninety-nine. It is reassuring, however, to find that in spelling he was barely able to squeeze through with a percentage of seventy-five. Glenn sometimes slipped up on the figuring, but the principle was usually right; he had figured that out beforehand. The boys of Hammondsport used to say that Glenn would think half an hour to do fifteen minutes' work. One wonders what they would have said, if they had been told that in after years he was to think and plan and scheme for a year, and then when he was all ready, to wait hour after hour, day after day, to accomplish something requiring a little more than two hours' time; like his flight from Albany to New York, the first great crosscountry flight made in America.
When Curtiss was twelve years old his family went to live in Rochester, New York, so that his sister might be able to attend a school for the deaf at that place. He went on working at Rochester after school hours and during vacation time, first as a telegraph messenger, then in the great Eastman Kodak works, assembling cameras. He was one of the very first boys hired by that establishment to replace men at certain kinds of work, and while the men had received twelve dollars a week, Glenn received but four dollars. Before long, however, he had induced his employers to make his work a piece-work job, and had improved the process of manufacture and increased the production from two hundred and fifty to twenty-five hundred a day. He was thus able to earn from twelve to fifteen dollars a week. It was while employed in the camera works at Rochester that Curtiss saved the life of a companion who had fallen through the ice on the Erie canal. When praised for his act of bravery he simply remarked: "I pulled him out because I was the nearest to him."
All during the time that Curtiss was working for others for wages, he continued to tinkermaking things and then taking them apart; Once he told some of his companions that he could make, out of a cigar box, a camera that would take a good picture. Of course they laughed at him and bet that he couldn't do it. But Glenn did do it, and a picture of his sister with a book was produced and is still unfaded, and in good condition, in possession of his family. He constructed a complete telegraph instrument out of spools, nails, tin, and wire and this so impressed the lady with whom the Curtisses boarded that she remarked to one of her friends that "Glenn Curtiss will make his mark in the world some day; you mark my words." This particular lady tells of the time that Glenn used to talk of airships, and he was not yet sixteen years old. Curtiss was fond of all sorts of sports, taking part in the games the boys would get up after school and on Saturdays. He liked to play ball, to run, jump, swim, and to ride a bicycle.
His time was too much taken up, however, with more productive efforts, such as the wiring of dwellings for electric light or telephones, to permit of much time being given to boyish sports.
He was most original and had a keen sense of humour.. He was fond of an argument, and had one striking characteristic; once he had made up his mind as to the why and wherefore of a thing, he could never be induced to change it. To illustrate this trait; one day an argument arose between Glenn and another boy as to whether or not a whale is a fish, Glenn holding that it could be nothing but a fish. The other boy finally reënforced his argument by producing a dictionary to show that a whale is not a fish, whereupon Curtiss asserted that the dictionary was wrong and refused to accept it as authority.
Curtiss was always eager for speedto get from one place to another in the quickest time with the least amount of effort. He was obsessed with the idea of travelling fast. One of the first things he remembers, says Curtiss, was seeing a sled made by one of his father's workmen for his son beat every other sled that dashed down the steep snow-clad hills around Hammondsport. He begged his father to let "Gene" make him a sled that would go faster than Linn's. "Gene" made the sled and Glenn painted it red, with a picture of a horse on it. Furthermore, he beat every sled in Hammondsport or thereabouts.
The bicycle became all the rage when Curtiss was growing into his early teens and nothing was more certain than that he should have one as soon as he could earn enough money to buy it. And when he got it he made it serve his purposes in delivering telegrams, newspapers, and such like. He developed speed and staying powers as a rider, and soon thought nothing of making the trip from Rochester to Hammondsport to see his grandmother, who still lived in the old home in that village. The roads of New York were not as good as they are nowadays, when the automobile forces improvements of the highways, but Curtiss rode fast nevertheless. In fact, he managed all his regular work this way. His idea was first, to find out just how to do it, and then do it. Then he would find out how fast a certain task could be performed, and get through with it at top speed. The surplus time he devoted to tinkering with something new.
Grandmother Curtiss finally prevailed upon him to go back to Hammondsport and live with her. For a time after his return he assisted a local photographer and his experience in photography gained at this time has since proved of great value to him, and, incidentally, to the history of aviation; for in photographing his experiments Curtiss' pictures have a distinct value, as much for being taken just at the right instant, as for their pictorial detail. Following his photographic employment, Curtiss took charge of a bicycle repair shop. It was a little shop down by the principal hotel in Hammondsport, but Curtiss foresaw the popularity and later the cheapness of the bicycle, and he believed the shop would do a good business. James Smellie owned the shop, but Curtiss' mechanical skill soon asserted itself and he became the practical boss. This was in 1897. George Lyon, a local jeweler, was a competitor of Smellie's in the bicycle business, and got up a big race around the valley, a distance of five miles over the rough country roads. When Smellie heard of the race he made up his mind that Curtiss could win it and went about arranging the equipment of his employé. That race has passed into the real history of the town of Hammondsport. Everybody in the town and the valley was there, and great was the excitement when the riders lined up for the start. They started from a point near the monument in front of the Episcopal church and within a few moments after the crack of the pistol they were all out of sight, swallowed up in the dust clouds that marked their progress up the valley. After a long interval of suspense a solitary rider appeared on the home stretch, hunched down over his handle-bars and riding for dear life, without a glance to right or left. It was Curtiss, who probably has never since felt the same thrill of pride at the shouts of the crowd. The next man was fully half a mile in the rear when Glenn crossed the finish-line.
This was Curtiss' first bicycle race, but later he acquired greater speed and experience and rode in many races at county fairs in the southern part of New York State. What's more, he won all of his races. This was good for his bicycle business, which -thrived in the summer, but languished in the winter. During the dull period Curtiss took up electrical work, wiring houses, putting in electric bells, and doing similar work of a mechanical nature. An incident is told of his mechanical skill at this time that illustrates his inquisitive mind. An acetylene gas generator in one of the stores got out of order one day, and no one in the store could tell just how to repair it. Curtiss had never seen a gas generator, but that did not deter him from going at it. He studied it out in a little while and then put his finger on the trouble. After that the generator worked better than ever. A little later he decided to build a gas generator after his own ideas. He started with two tomato cans and built it.
This was the first appearance of Curtiss' two tomato cans. They played an important part in his subsequent experimental work, figuring all the way through from this first gas generator to the carburetor of a motorcycle, and at last to enlarge the water capacity of Charles K. Hamilton's engine on his aeroplane so that he might cool his engine better in making the record flight from New York to Philadelphia and return in the same day. In this first case the two tomato cans developed into an acetylene gas plant with several improvements, and his own home and shop were lighted by it. Later the plant was enlarged so as to furnish light for several business houses of Hammondsport.
IN the spring of 1900 Curtiss embarked in the bicycle business for himself, opening a shop near his old place of employment. This shop soon came to be known as the "industrial incubator," because experiments of many kinds were tried there a hatching-place for all sorts of new machines. The first one developed was destined to open up to Curtiss a new field of action, one that furnished the opportunity for new speed records, and enlarged the scope of his activities beyond the limits of the little town and the valley, and spread before him possibilities as wide as the boundaries of the continent.
Curtiss had ridden a bicycle in races, and got the utmost speed out of it; but the bicycle, as a man-propelled vehicle, did not travel fast enough to suit him. He therefore set about devising means for increasing its speed possibilities. One day Smellie, his old employer, came into Curtiss' shop, tired out and perspiring from his efforts in pedaling his bicycle up the hill. "Glenn," he said, "I'm going to give the blamed thing up until they get something to push it." That was Curtiss' cue, and it promptly became his problem getting something to push it! He determined to mount a gasoline engine on a bicycle, and at once began to search for the necessary castings. Finally he secured them and began the task of building a motor. Unfortunately, the man who sold him the castings sent no instructions for building a motor, so the problem was left to Curtiss and to those who interested themselves in his work. They studied and planned and made experiments, learning something new about motors all the while. Eventually, with the assistance of local mechanics, the castings were "machined" and the motor assembled.
Curtiss afterward described it as a remarkable contrivance; but it did the work. This motor had a two-inch bore and a two-an-a-half-inch stroke and drove the bicycle wheel by a friction roller pulley. First, Curtiss made the pulley of wood, then of leather, and finally of rubber. It was tried first on the front wheel and then on the rear one, and so numerous were the changes in and additions to its equipment, that the bystanders and there was the usual number of these saw only the humorous side of the thing and declared that it looked like a sort of Happy Hooligan bicycle with tin cans hung on wherever there was room. The tomato can again came to the front in Curtiss' experiments, and now served to fashion a rough and ready sort of carburetor, filled with gasoline and covered over with a gauze screen, which sucked up the liquid by capillary attraction. Thus it vaporized and was conducted to the cylinder by a pipe from the top of the can.
Then came the first demonstration of a bicycle driven by power other than leg muscles, and it attracted almost as much attention in Hammondsport as the first bicycle road race which Curtiss had won some years before. The newfangled machine, which the village oracle declared could not be made to go unless the rider put his legs to work, did not promise much of a success on its initial trip. Curtiss started off for the post-office, but had to pedal all the way there, the motor refusing to do its part. Coming from the post-office, however, it began popping and shoved the wheels around at an amazing rate, while Curtiss sat calmly upright and viewed the excited citizens of Hammondsport as he sped by.
That was the beginning of Curtiss' motorcycle; but the ambitious inventor did not rest with the first success. Work at the "incubator" went on unceasingly. The young mechanical genius carried on his regular duties during the days but spent most of the nights in his experiments. Curtiss would not have said that he worked nights, but that he spent his evenings in "doping out" the best way to build something. He has never changed his habits in this respect. lie still "dopes out" something for the next day or the next month while "resting" from his daylight duties; though the process would now be expressed in somewhat more scientific terms. In truth, one may say that Curtiss worked all the time. In office or shop hours, like other persons, he did what he had to do; while at other times he did what he wanted to do. Curtiss was different only in that he wanted to do those things which other people would call labor. Experimental work was recreation to Curtiss, and because of this mental attitude he was able to stick at a task day and night and keep up "steam" all the while.
Curtiss seldom planned on paper. Plans seemed to outline themselves in his active mind, and when, later, he became an employer of a number of men, he simply outlined his ideas, describing just what he wanted to accomplish, and left it to their ingenuity. Sometimes one of his assistants would ask him a question and after standing for minutes as if he had not heard, Curtiss would suddenly reply and outline a task which it would require all day to carry out. Once Curtiss had decided that a certain course of action would bring certain mechanical results, it usually turned out that way, and because of this and the further fact that he was as good a workman as he was a designer, the men he had gathered around him grew to regard his judgment as final and therefore went ahead with absolute confidence as to the results.
There was a remarkable spirit of cooperation in the "industrial incubator." This spirit continued through the early years of Curtiss' first business successes, and it obtains to-day in the big Curtiss aeroplane and motor factories at Hammondsport. The alertness of the men around Curtiss, and the atmosphere of cooperation may be due, in some measure, to the curious interest they always hold as to what he will do nextand there is certain to be something happening out of the ordinary. Thus, work with Curtiss seldom becomes monotonous and without its surprises.
To go back to the first motor Curtiss built; it was quickly found to be too small, and he secured another set of castings, as large as he could get. With these he constructed a motor with a cylinder three and a half by five inches, and weighing a hundred and ninety pounds. This machine proved to be a terror. It is true that it exploded only occasionally, but when it did it almost tore itself loose from the frame. But it drove the motorcycle as fast as thirty miles an hour and gained such a remarkable reputation in Hammondsport that a story is still told in the town of the time Curtiss made his first trip with it, when it carried him through the village, up over the steep hills, through North Urbana and as far as Wayne, where it ran out of gasoline and came to a stop of its own accord. Thus Curtiss went ahead with his work to construct and improve his motors, and improvement came with each successive one. The third motor was better suited to the needs of the bicycle and furnished better results. Meantime, Curtiss began to receive inquiries and even some orders, and business took a decidedly favorable turn. Judge Monroe Wheeler took a great liking to the young man, who used to come over to his office to get the judge's stenographer to typewrite his letters, and helped him to establish credit at the local bank, and in other ways. Half a dozen fellow- townsmen became interested enough in Curtiss' motorcycle experiments to put money into the business, and within a short time a little factory was built on the hill back of Grandma Curtiss' house. It was an inconvenient place to put up a factory, and all the heavy material was hauled up to it with some difficulty, but the light, finished product, which in this case could go under its own power, rolled down the steep grade without trouble. In spite of these little obstacles; in spite of the fact that Hammondsport is located at the end of a little branch railroad which seems to the visitor to run only as the spirit moves the engineerin spite of every handicap, the business grew rapidly.
Curtiss was, by this time, happily married and Mrs. Curtiss helped with the office work at the factory, which stood then, as it does to-day, at the very back door of the old Curtiss homestead on the hillside. Curtiss used to take out his best motorcycle in these days and go off alone to all the motorcycle races held in that section of the State. Incidentally, he scooped in all the prizes, for he had the fastest machine, and he was a finished rider. On Memorial Day in 1903, Curtiss ventured far afield for an event that brought him his first notices in the big newspapers of New York City. He entered and won a hill-climbing contest at New York City, on Riverside Drive, and immediately afterward mounted his wheel, rode up the Hudson to another race, at Empire City Track, and won that also. This gave him the American championship.
Later, at Providence, R. I., he established a world's record for a single-cylinder motorcycle, covering a mile in fifty-six and two-fifths seconds. While this was phenomenal speed, it was as nothing in comparison with the record he was soon to establish. He built a two-cylinder motor and on January 28,1904, at Ormond Beach, Florida, he rode ten miles in eight minutes fifty-four and two-fifth seconds, and established a world's record that stood for more than seven years. Curtiss was not content even with this. He wanted to travel faster than man had ever traveled before. He had built a forty horse-power, eight- cylinder motor for a customer who wanted it to put in a flying machine which he was building, and in order to try out the motor Curtiss built an especially strong motorcycle, using an automobile tire on the rear wheel and a motorcycle tire on the front wheel. On a strong frame the big forty horsepower motor was mounted. It was not given a thorough try out at Hammondsport, for it was winter and snow lay deep on the roads. With the aid of some of his shopmen, Curtiss took the freak machine out on the snow-covered roads, merely for the purpose of seeing if it could be started as it was geared in the machine. It proved that it would start all right, and so it was hurriedly boxed and rushed to the train, which was actually kept waiting several minutes. Curtiss was going South to make new records, and even the railroad men on the little branch road from Hammondsport to Bath, felt an interest in his undertaking. This, by the way, is typical of the way things are done at Hammondsport. When there is need for rushing matters, the men work night and day without complaint. These last-moment rushes are often due to the giving of much thought to the details before commencing to build, and sometimes because, in building, improvements which must be incorporated suggest themselves. Curtiss' rule, as he expresses it, is: "What is the need of racing unless you think you are going to win; and if you are beaten before you start, why take a chance?" But there are other considerations for the builder of racing machines to take into account. If your competitors know what you are doing, and they will know, somehow, if you give them a little time, they will go you one better. Therefore, this belated activity at the Curtiss factory is not always without its motive. Take, for instance, the first big International race for the Gordon Bennett aviation trophy, which Curtiss won at Rheims, France, in 1909. In spite of the fact that Curtiss' motor was built in a great hurry, barely giving the necessary time to finish it and reach Rheims for the race, Bleriot, the chief French builder of the monoplane type, changed his motor as soon as he had read a description of the one Curtiss was to use
The motorcycle which Curtiss had built and mounted with the eight-cylinder motor proved to be a world beaterthe fastest vehicle ever built to carry a man. It was taken to Ormond Beach, Florida, where it was tried out on the smooth sandy shore, which stretches for miles, as level as a billiard table and almost as hard as asphalt. Here, on January 24, 1907, Curtiss mounted the heavy, ungainly vehicle and traveled a mile in twenty-six and two-fifth seconds, at the rate of one hundred and thirty-seven miles an hour! This stands to-day as the speed record for man and machine. Curtiss, without goggles and with no special precautions in the matter of costume, simply mounted the seat, took a two-mile running start before crossing the line, and was off. Bending so low over the handle-bars that he almost seemed to be lying flat and merged into a part of the machine itself, he flashed over the mile course in less time than it takes to read these dozen lines. This speed trial was the culmination of weeks of study, work, and experiment. Day after day, and even at night, Curtiss had schemed and worked; now to get the weight properly placed and balanced; here to strengthen the frame and overcome the danger from the torque, and the tendency to turn the machine over, and finally to obtain the right sort of tires and to put them on securely. Ordinary tires, on wheels revolving at such an amazing speed, would have been cast off the rims like a belt off a pulley, by the centrifugal force.
These and a thousand other details were worked out so thoroughly that the machine, when ready, required very little testing out. In describing the trial Curtiss said that he could see nothing but a streak of grey beach in front of him, a blur of hills on one side, and the white ribbon of foaming surf on the other. The great crowd that watched the smoking, whirring thing that flashed by as if fired from a great gun, caught but a fleeting glimpse of Curtiss.
The record could not be accepted as official, because the motor was too big and powerful to be classed as a motorcycle engine. It therefore stands as an absolutely unique performance, unequalled, and not even approached as regards speed' until three years later, when Barney Oldfield, driving a two hundred horse-power Benz automobile, covered a mile over the same course in twenty-seven and thirty-three hundredths seconds.
Curtiss had developed, improved, and exhausted the motorcycle as far as speed possibilities were concerned, and was soon to give it up for something of far greater potential possibilitiesthe aeroplane.
THOMAS SCOTT BALDWIN was engaged in building a dirigible balloon in California when he chanced to see a new motorcycle, the motor of which seemed to be exactly what he wanted to propel his new airship. He learned that it was the design and product of a man named Curtiss, at Hammondsport, N. Y., with whom he entered into correspondence. The result was that Captain Baldwin went to Hammondsport for a personal interview with the man who had turned out the motor.
Baldwin expected to find, as he afterward said, a big, important-looking manufacturer, and great was his surprise to find a quiet, unassuming young man, scarcely more than a youth. The jovial Baldwin and the unobtrusive Curtiss became great friends at once. They discussed motors of all sorts, but particularly motors suitable for dirigible balloons, then in the first stage of development. When Baldwin asked Curtiss the price of one of the type then used in the Curtiss motorcycle, he was surprised at its cheapness, and ordered one on the spot. This was built at once and proved successful. Later several other motors were built at the Curtiss factory for Baldwin, each one showing some improvement, and some of them designed to meet the increasing demand for a more powerful motor of light weight for use in dirigible balloons. As a natural consequence of Baldwin's success with the use of the Curtiss motor, it was but a short time until it came to be the best known motor in America for aeronautic work. At the St. Louis World's Fair, in 1904, Captain Baldwin's "California Arrow," the only successful airship out of all those which were brought from Europe and every part of America to contest for big prizes, was equipped with one of Curtiss' motors. Baldwin's success at St. Louis was a triumph for Curtiss, and soon all dirigible balloons operating in this country were driven by Curtiss motors.
Hammondsport was now to have a new sensation and to witness an experiment which eventually led to momentous developments. In order to test the power of the motors he was building for Captain Baldwin, and for the purpose of determining the efficiency of his aerial propeller, Curtiss constructed a "wind- wagon," a three wheel vehicle with the motor and propeller mounted in the rear of the driver. When he took this queer contrivance out on the road for its first trial, the town of Hammondsport turned out to witness the fun. Consternation among the usually mild-eyed work horses spread throughout the little valley as the " wind-wagon" went scooting up and down the dusty roads, creating a fearful racket. Before the start was made an automobile was sent ahead to clear the way and to warn the drivers of other vehicles. The automobile, however, was quickly overhauled, passed, and left far in the rear by the whirring, spluttering, three-wheeled embryonic flying machine.
Protests by farmers, business-men and others quickly followed this experiment. They argued that it frightened the horses, made travel on the roads unsafe, and was "bad for business generally." As the machine had served its purpose with Curtiss, and had given Hammondsport its little diversion, the famous "wind-wagon" passed into history, and, like so many other of Curtiss' experiments, remains only in the memories of those who were directly interested or those who watched in idle curiosity.
Other airships were built by Baldwin and Curtiss from time to time, and these were used successfully in giving exhibitions throughout the United States. The work of these two pioneers of the air had attracted the attention of the United States Government, in the meantime, and great was the elation at Hammondsport when an order came from the War Department at Washington for a big dirigible balloon for the use of the Signal Corps. Baldwin was commissioned to build the balloon and Curtiss the motor to propel it. This was an important undertaking, and both Baldwin and Curtiss appreciated the fact. It marked the beginning of Governmental and; military interest in aeronautics in this country, the possibilities of which were already engaging the attention of the military authorities: of Europe. The success of this airship meant much to both men, and Baldwin and Curtiss worked all through the winter of 1904-05 to make it so, Baldwin, meanwhile, having moved to Hammondsport in order to be in touch with the Curtiss factory, where all the mechanical parts Of his airships were being made.
In order to meet the specifications drawn up by the War Department, the big airship was required to make a continuous flight of two hours under the power of the motor, and be capable of manoeuvring in any direction. Curtiss realised that in order to fill these requirements a new type motor would be needed. He designed and set about building, therefore, a water-cooled motor, something which had not been attempted at the Curtiss factory up to this time, and the success of which marked a long step in advance. Although Baldwin had built thirteen dirigibles, all of which had been equipped with motors built by Curtiss, and all of which had been operated successfully in exhibitions the Government contract was his most ambitious undertaking. About the balloon itself, there was never any doubt; the thing that clung constantly in the minds of these men who were bending every effort to the conquest of the air, was: "Will the motor do its work in a two- hours' endurance test, and will it furnish the necessary power to drive the big airship at a speed of twenty miles an hours" The conditions under which the trial was to be made were entirely unique. The motor had to be suspended on a light but substantial framework beneath the great gas-bag, and from this framework the pilot and the engineer had to do their work.
The Army dirigible was completed on time and its test took place at Washington in the summer of 1905. Captain Baldwin acted as pilot and Curtiss as engineer. The airship met every specification and was accepted by the Government. A flight of two hours' duration was made over the wooded hills of Virginia, and this stands to day as the longest continuous flight ever made by a dirigible airship in this country.