Having spent my entire professional career in engineering and manufacturing, I maintain a keen interest in the early manufacturing that developed around the Finger Lakes region of NY State. Finger Lakes wineries are fun, but a visit to Hammondsport, NY would be not be complete without stopping at the Cradle of Aviation where Glenn H.Curtiss flew “The June Bug” on July 4, 1908, on a one kilometer flight in Hammondsport, NY.
His flight took place in the valley just behind where the museum is located. If you listen, you can hear his plane coming over the building. Yes, his flight was not the earliest heavier than air flight, but his flight was observed by others and his plane made use of ailerons which made it very steerable.
The progression of his mechanical genius skills led him from riding and manufacturing bicycles, to motorcycles, to lighter than air dirigibles, to heavier than air flying machines – all because he loved speed and spent his entire life developing light weight high power gasoline engines.
In 1907 on the 24th of January at Ormond Beach Fl., he rode his V8 powered motorcycle to 136 mph and became the fastest man on earth. And his record on the motorcycle stood until 1930, the year that he died! He was the first man to take off and land on water – the waters of Keuka Lake. Plan on taking a Finger Lakes vacation to Hammondsport, NY to visit the museum and the Finger Lakes wineries. And then plan on returning many times as you can’t possibly absorb all of Glenn H. Curtiss’s machines and his accomplishments in just one visit!
James R. Bupp