Father’s Day was just around the corner and I was stumped on a gift for my husband. He’s not a big fan of receiving clothes as gifts, and his habit of simply buying the things he wants left the “Dad gift list” pretty empty. Suddenly, I recalled a friend’s recommendation of the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport, NY.
Glenn Hammond Curtiss became a local “speed prodigy” while in his teens when he began designing, building and racing bicycles. By the time he was 24 years old, his bicycle company was well-known for producing bikes under the brand name of “Hercules,” and he used his mechanical prowess to add engines to the bikes, creating some of this country’s early motorcycles. In 1907, he added a V-8 engine to a bike and was tracked at 136 m.p.h., bestowing on him the name of “The fastest man on earth.” His exploits in speed attracted the notice of the early adventurers in aviation, including Thomas Scott Baldwin, who hired him to add a V-twin engine to his “lighter-than-air” dirigible. Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association and was working elbow-to-elbow with visionaries, such as Alexander Graham Bell, who saw the promising future of aviation.
Watch this short narrated slide show to get a snapshot of this amazing man’s life and a peep at one of the region’s truly fascinating museums:
The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is fittingly housed in what resembles an enormous airplane hanger. Not only does the museum celebrate the man and display his many achievements …bicycles, motorcycles, early airplanes and seaplanes, WWI fighting planes, RV trailers… it also shows how his creations influenced society (he was the first to train female pilots) and history. Through photos, personal items and historic memorabilia, we get a look at the times and life of Glenn H. Curtiss, the fastest man on earth.
The Glenn H. Curtis Museum is located at 8419 Route 54 in Hammondsport at the south end of Keuka Lake (GPS coordinates: 42.235548N 77.135839W). It’s open May through October, Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November through April it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The fee for admission is Adults $7.50, Seniors (65 and over)$7.50, Students (7-18)$4.50, Children (6 & under) and Members Free. They also offer a family rate of $20/family an adult group rate of $5/adult and a student group rate of $2.50/student. If you’re wondering whether to take your children or grandchildren, most kids will be enthralled!
P.S. We all had a blast and between the trip to the museum and lunch on the terrace of “The Switz,” (The Switzerland Inn Restaurant) overlooking Keuka Lake, I think he’d say it was one of his best Father’s Days ever!