America the Cruisable
The seaplane Glenn Curtiss designed in 1914 may have had trouble on the ocean, but its reproduction is delighting a whole town on a lake.
- By James Wynbrandt
- Air & Space magazine, March 2008
NASM (SI Neg. #83-8674)
(Page 3 of 3)
In the end, it didn't seem to matter to anyone that the America didn't fly that afternoon. The crowd watched this visitor from another era turn grand circles in the water, leaving big, frothy plumes behind. "That's the way it goes," said Jim Flieg, an industrial engineer from Potter, New York, who came to see the America with his father, John, and son Joshua. "I work on machinery. And when someone's been working on something and they flip the switch and it actually does something, I'm thrilled."
"We've re-created a moment in history here," Poel said after bringing the America back to the shore. "And to see it taxi around and to hear two OX-5 engines is something not many people get to experience."
The America is back on display at the museum while efforts to overcome its hydrostatic friction continue, mainly by finding ways to reduce weight. Another area under study is finding a stabilizer incidence angle relative to that of the wing that produces optimum lift. The team is also tweaking trim and rigging. And soon the more powerful OXX-6 engines will be installed. "We'll work on engines and propeller combinations and do some serious thrust measurements that we haven't done before," Wilder says. The America's first flight, anticipated to be made this spring, will likely be a quiet occasion, Doherty says, with the public debut planned for the next Seaplane Homecoming in September.