Upcoming Exhibition | Going the Distance
Aviation Museum & Library
Going the Distance:
Endurance Aircraft Engines and Propellers of the 1910s and 20s
Glenn H. Curtiss (1878–1930) began developing inline engines around 1904. After modifying and improving his engines for airplanes, he developed the inline, liquid-cooled V-8 OX series. Equipped with a Curtiss OXX-6 engine, aviator Katherine Stinson (1891–1977) flew in a modified Curtiss biplane from San Diego to San Francisco in 1917, covering a distance of 606 miles in nine hours and ten minutes for a new endurance record. Introduced a little over a decade later, the radial Wright J-5 Whirlwind engine was specifically developed for long-range flight and was instrumental in advancing aviation during the late 1920s and well into the 1930s. In 1928, Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith (1897–1935) and crew flew the J-5-equipped Southern Cross on the first successful transpacific flight from California to Australia, covering a distance of 7,200 miles in ten days. Propeller design also evolved along with aircraft engine technology during this period, from wooden fixed-pitch propellers created for specific applications to ground-adjustable variable pitch propellers made of advanced materials in the 1920s. This exhibition presents two groundbreaking engines and two related propellers, along with historical photographs and video of two exceptional endurance aircraft and the resolute aviators who flew them to breakthrough achievements in aviation.