Hero of the Air
Glenn Curtiss and the Birth of Naval Aviation
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In this biography, William F. Trimble examines the pioneering work of Glenn Curtiss and his role in the origins
of aviation in the U.S. Navy in the years up to and through World War I. A self-taught mechanic and inventor, Curtiss was a key figure in the development of the airplane during the early part of the century and his contributions to aviation are well known. This book s careful examination of his partnership with the Navy breaks new ground in revealing significant new details of his contributions. Curtiss s links to the Navy came as result of aviation advocates within the Navy, chief among them Captain Washington I. Chambers, who recognized that the Navy had special requirements for airplanes and their operations, and for aviators and their training. Curtiss helped meet the special requirements of the service for aircraft, particularly those with the potential for operating with naval vessels at sea or in conducting long-distance flights over water. He also was instrumental in training the first naval aviators. Curtiss and the Navy continued their collaboration through World War I, reaching a climax in 1919 with the first transatlantic flight of the famed Navy-Curtiss NC flying boat.
This book addresses the broader implications of the Curtiss-Navy collaboration in the context of the longstanding
trend of government-private cooperation in the introduction and development of new technologies. It also explores the interactive dynamics of weapons procurement and technological change within a large and entrenched bureaucracy and helps lay to rest the persistent myth that the Navy resisted the introduction of aviation