Finger Lakes 2015: Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum

Now that I’m back from my trip to Shenandoah, VA, let me finish telling you about my trip to Hammondsport, NY.

While driving to the Corning Museum of Glass, I noticed a giant airplane sitting in a field and made a mental note to check it out later if I could. It turned out to be basically the monument sign to the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum. I left Angela to recuperate from the marathon, which involves some things I find to be very strange (pulling out all your toenails) and some things I find to be very logical and familiar (eating a DiGiorno pizza). While she did that I decided to see what this museum was all about.


I don’t know what I expected from this museum, but whatever my expectations, this museum exceeded them. Turns out that this Glenn H. Curtiss guy was an all-around badass. Here are the highlights that I remember from a 15-minute video that I saw 3 weeks ago.

GHC was pedaling around Hammondsport on his bike and said to himself, you know what would make this bike better? An ENGINE. So he ordered one and when he opened the box, instead of an engine, there was just the mold for an engine and no instructions. This would be like if you ordered something from Ikea and got a box of sawdust and glue. Anybody else would have went, “welp”, and pedaled their boring old reg’lar bicycle around in sadness, but GHC said “seems easy enough” and went to a foundry or some shit. He cast his own engine out of liquid metal and got it to work on the second try, realized that brakes would have been a good idea, tucked and rolled back into his garage and invented a series of increasingly faster motorcycles, setting and breaking his own world records over and over again.


GHC rode that monstrosity faster than 136 miles per hour, and I wouldn’t so much as sit on it without looking like that kid from A Christmas Story.

What a life, am I right? Apparently, though, it wasn’t enough for GHC to set land speed records, he had to set air speed records, too. So what do you do to set an air speed record when airplanes don’t exist yet? You get recruited into an elite research group by Alexander Graham Bell and invent your own damn airplane.


And when that’s too easy you put wings on a boat because why not.

GHC went on to have something like 3 factories employing 21,000 people making engines and airplanes, making him one of the biggest players in one of the biggest innovations ever: flight.

He also had an Airstream before there were Airstreams.


You’ll never accomplish as much as Glenn H. Curtiss did. You’ll never even accomplish growing as good a moustache.


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