GLENN CURTISS: Pioneer of Flight by C. R. Roseberry

GLENN CURTISS: Pioneer of Flight

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The sympathetic if largely uninflected birth-to-death story of Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930) who, like his longtime rivals the Wright brothers, started with bicycles (racing -- his entire career, says Roseberry, ""sprung out of a craving for speed""), designed an early motorcycle, experimented briefly with dirigibles, and then turned to what was to be his enduring interest, aeroplanes. Always trying ""to figure out a better way of doing it,"" Curtiss quickly won aviation kudos with his June Bug in 1908 and by the next year he had formed a company with another pioneer, Augustus Herring, to manufacture ""heavier-than-air machines."" The rest details Curtiss' continuing quest for flying prize money and trophies (he liked the competition), the protracted feud with the ""oversensitive"" Orville Wright who saw every new plane built as a patent infringement, the construction of Curtiss' famous series of racing boats, and the vagaries of the growing aeronautics industry; concerning the latter, Roseberry is unnecessarily rough on Herring whom he depicts as a quasi-scoundrel while whitewashing Curtiss even though in the end Herring won a court settlement. This is little more than inventive American boy flying from gasket-to-riches, and by this time there's no inspirational fuel left in that tale.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1972
ISBN: 0815602642
Publisher: Doubleday