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Curator's Choice Video Collection

Cradle of Aviation Museum Historian and Curator, Josh Stoff, curates interesting short YouTube videos and provides commentary.

Virtual Museum Home > Curator's Choice > Let's Fly a Curtiss ‘Pusher’

Let's Fly a Curtiss ‘Pusher’
YouTube Channel: Kermit Weeks, posted August 20, 2012

The first successful flights by an aircraft on Long Island were made in the Summer of 1909 by Glenn Curtiss in the Curtiss #1 “Golden Flyer”. This aircraft later went on to win the Scientific American Trophy for the first flight in America of 25 kilometers. The Golden Flyer was the first in a long line of Curtiss ‘Pushers’, aircraft that dominated the American aviation scene in the years prior to World War One. These aircraft were known as ‘Pushers’ as the engine sat behind the pilot facing rearward. Curtiss Pushers were generally frail box kiteflys-type biplane aircraft powered by engines of around 40 hp and controlled by ailerons set between the wings with a biplane elevator in the front and a rudder in the rear. They weighed but 700 pounds and had a top speed of 50 mph on a good day. If you lived in Nassau County in 1910 and you saw one of these things soring overhead, you would have stopped dead in your tracks and stared at the wonder of flight by man. 

Recently noted aircraft collector Kermit Weeks had an accurate flyable replica of a Curtiss Pusher constructed for him to add to his growing museum collection. Weeks flies everything he owns and shares video of it so all can enjoy his adventures. The airframe and control system of the replica are quite accurate, however, due to safety concerns, it is equipped with a modern Continental engine of similar horsepower to the original. In the video, note the bamboo longerons wrapped with black tape to prevent cracking, and the modern vertical plastic tube which is a crude form of airspeed indicator.

Now let's sit on the edge of a wing, out in the breeze like the pioneers, and take a flight in a Curtiss Pusher.

An accurate replica of the ‘Golden Flyer’ may be seen in the museum’s Hempstead plains gallery.