VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the first transatlantic flight.
The plane that did it, the NC-4, was built by the Curtiss Company, located in Hammondsport on the shores of Keuka Lake.
“Early on, in 1908, aviation magazines were saying that Hammondsport was the center of U.S. aviation development,” said Rick Liesenring, curator of the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum, which has an exhibit honoring the flight.
The NC-4’s trip in 1919 was eight years before Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight. While Lindbergh was the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic, the NC-4 was the first to do it period. The crew made five stops over the 19-day trip.
Liesenring said the flight was pretty dangerous for the crew. “They were taking an extremely big risk because everything was unproven,” he explained. “Nothing like this had been attempted before.”
The flight was a beacon of what was to come for travel around the globe. In coming decades, commercial air travel became more and more common. “People were seeing that ‘gee, we could fly to England, instead of getting on a cruise ship and taking two months to get there, we can get there in a matter of ten days at the most’,” Liesenring said.
The Curtiss Company stayed in Hammondsport until 1929, before merging with the Wright Corporation to form Curtiss-Wright.