Saturday, January 26, 2013

Today is January 26...

On this day in 1911 (no friends I truly was NOT there) Glenn Curtiss flew the first American seaplane.

1911. 102 years ago. Today.

There are parts of the world where seaplanes are still the only way to fly (remote parts of Canada and Alaska spring to mind). Curtiss did it in this way. The first American seaplane flight occurred on January 26, 1911 by Curtiss in his "hydroaeroplane" from the waters of San Diego Bay, landing next to the "USS Pennsylvania". The ship’s crew hoisted the aircraft aboard, lowered it back to the water, meeting the requirements set by the Secretary of the Navy, convincing him to appropriate money for aviation.


Much of the later development of Curtiss seaplanes occurred from the surface of Keuka Lake in New York State, on whose southern end Hammondsport is located. He went on to found the Curtiss Aviation Company, have a court dispute with the Wright brothers, make a fortune in the WWI years, and retire to Florida in the middle of the roaring Twenties, to become a highly-successful land developer. With friends, he developed the Florida cities of Hialeah, Miami Springs, and Opa-Locka.

Opa-Locka was based on "One Thousand and One" Arabian nights and boasts streets witih names like Ali Baba.  Not to mention the REAL Sesame Street!  Opa-locka boasts the biggest concentration of Moorish Revival architecture in the Americas.

For most 21 century people, Curtiss does not spring to mind when you ask who the pioneers of aviation were. Wright. Lindbergh. Erhart. Maybe. Curtiss is in that rare group.

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