Mustache March

Handlebar, pencil, or toothbrush? A gallery of famous aviators’ ‘staches in honor of a fuzzy Air Force tradition.

Louis Blériot (NASM)

Glenn Curtiss


Aviation pioneer and inventor Glenn Curtiss “had a few ‘stache-n-beard combos that were decidedly Zappa-esque,” says Paul Glenshaw, director of the Discovery of Flight Foundation and a frequent contributor to Air & Space/Smithsonian.

The future aircraft designer got his start by manufacturing motorcycles, setting a speed record at Ormond Beach, Florida, on January 23, 1907. At that time, no human had ever traveled faster. The Chicago Daily News enthusiastically reported: “Bullets are the only rivals of Glenn H. Curtiss.” The Windy City also displayed a duplicate of the 8-cylinder engine at the Chicago Automobile Show.

Chicago’s interest in Curtiss may be linked to its status as “the most mustache-friendly city in the United States (a title bestowed by the American Mustache Institute.) According to the Institute, “From Civil War generals like Lew Wallace to the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft (the last Mustached American President), people of Mustached American descent were chainsaw wielding men of power, good looks, martial arts abilities, and long-lasting virility.”

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