Hammondsport, New York

Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum

Curtiss is a forgotten figure in the early history of flight. 

Driving a country highway in upstate New York, you don’t expect to see a shining metal plane from World War II on the side of the road.

This Curtiss C-46 “Commando” marks the entrance to the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum, an aviation collection dedicated to the memory of one America’s earliest pilots. 

Curtiss was born in Hammondports, New York, in 1878. He made his early reputation building and racing bikes and motorcycles, but in the early 1900s he became fascinated with flight and turned his attention to building a flying machine. Five years after the Wright Brothers’ iconic flight, Curtiss announced his own. He took the “June Bug” up in the air and flew 5,000 feet. It was, according to the museum, the “first pre-announced, public flight in America.”

Inside, the museum has a nice collection of aircraft, cars, boats, and motorcycles, Curtiss’ first great mechanical love. The collection includes a replica of the June Bug, as well as the first airplane to take flight in Canada, an early Navy plane, and other early planes. 

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