P.Bowers Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947 (Putnam)
Aerodrome No.1, Red Wing The first AEA aeroplane was named Red Wing because of the colour of its fabric covering. It was a biplane with a movable elevator ahead of the wings and a fixed stabilizer behind. A movable rudder was provided, but no means of lateral control. Since it was to be flown from ice, it used skids for an undercarriage. The 'sponsor', or principal designer, was Lt Selfridge.
The first of two flights was made by Thomas Baldwin on 12 March, 1908, since Selfridge was absent on Army business. The flight covered a distance of 318 ft 11 in (97 m) and ended in a crash landing. This has been represented as the first public aeroplane flight in the United States, and figured in the subsequent controversies with the Wrights. The second flight, on 18 March, also ending in a crash, covered only 40 yards and proved the need for lateral control.
Span 43 ft 4 in (13.2 m); wing area 385 sq ft (35.76 sq m); gross weight 570 lb (258 kg); powerplant Curtiss 40 hp air-cooled V-8.
Aerodrome No.2, White Wing The second AEA aeroplane was White Wing, sponsored by Baldwin. It was very similar to Red Wing, except for the substitution of three wheels for the ice runners, and used the same engine. The most important innovation was the addition of movable lateral control surfaces on all four wingtips that later came to be called ailerons. In principle, these had the same effect as the Wright's wing-warping, but Curtiss claimed mechanical and control differences. The method of control reflected Curtiss's motorcyle experience - a yoke embraced the pilot's shoulders - when he wanted to bank for a turn, he leaned in the desired direction and the proper control movement was automatically applied.
White Wing made four flights, the first on 18 May, 1908, again with Baldwin at the controls. Distance was 93 yards (85 m) at a height of 10 ft (3 m). Longest flight was the third, at 339 yards (310m) with Curtiss flying. While Wing crashed on 23 May after McCurdy had flown 183 yards (167 m).
Span 42 ft 3 in (12.87 m); wing area 408 sq ft (37.9 sq m); gross weight 605 lb (274 kg).
H.King Aeromarine Origins (Putnam)
During 1907 Dr Alexander Graham Bell's immense 'tetrahedral kite' the Cygnet (it had 3,393 cells), was positioned in the middle of a lake and raised against the wind by towing behind a boat.
There are very strong links here with Glenn Curtiss, the greatest name in the development of marine aircraft; for Dr Bell was founder of the Aerial Experiment Association, of which Curtiss became 'director of experiments'; and the Red Wing, the first powered aircraft produced by the Association was initially flown (March 12, 1908) from the frozen surface of Lake Keuka. It had a sleigh undercarriage - of a type proposed by Wilhelm Kress in the early 1890s. Lake Keuka was to become the scene of much of Curtiss' early work on floatplanes and flying boats.