The Curtiss Jenny was the first mass-produced American aircraft. In 1917, the U.S. did not have aircraft capable of fighting in the skies over France. Most American planes were designed for sport, not war. While American aviation engineers were attempting to catch up, many adventurous young men were eager to become military pilots. The vast majority of U.S. and Canadian pilots in World War I trained in Jennys, even though the plane itself never saw combat.
At the end of the war, thousands of the Jennys were sold to civilians. The slow-flying plane was ideal for acrobatic wing-walkers performing dare-devil stunts for crowds on the ground. Pilots would “barnstorm” from one farmer’s field to another, putting on aerobatic shows and taking audience members for rides—these shows greatly increased the public’s interest in flying.
History of the Artifact
Airworthy Jennys are extremely rare and this aircraft is one of the finest examples in the world. It was manufactured in 1918 and served at March Field in Riverside, California, logging over 250 hours as a military trainer.
In 1919 the plane was sold back to Curtiss for reconditioning and civilian resale. For the next 75 years it was owned by several private individuals in Southern California and was featured in numerous film and television productions. The worn-out airplane was acquired by the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in 1999 and rebuilt and restored to its U.S. Army configuration in San Antonio, Texas.
Did you know?
In the interest of safety and reliability, the OX-5 engine in this plane was replaced by a dual-ignition OXX6 model.