Friday, February 24, 2012

Fastest Man on Earth -Glenn H Curtiss

In 1907, Glenn Curtiss became known as the fastest man on earth. His home-built, air-cooled V-8 powered motorcycle took him to a speed of 136.3 miles an hour in Ormand Beach, Florida on January 24th.

Curtis began his career as a builder of bicycles but quickly moved on to motorcycles. In 1901, he started creating bicycles with single-cylinder engines fashioned from tomato cans. In short order, he was building V-twins and inline-four engines for his motorcycles.

The lightweight 8-cylinder record breaker came just a few years later. By that time, Curtiss had began an interest in building aircraft and particularly aircraft engines. The motorcycle became the test bed for his new, powerful aircraft engine designs.
His 4000 cc engine was strapped to a frame with skinny tires and a questionable braking system. A shaft drive drove the rear wheel. The 90-degree engine design was fed by twin carburetors that Curtiss also designed and built. The entire machine only weighed 275 pounds.The land speed record set by Curtiss would stand for another 11 years. It was beat by an automobile. It wasn't until 1930 that the record was beat by a motorcycle.
Curtiss pretty much lost interest in motorcycles after 1914 in favor of the new frontier that was aviation. He was the first person to earn a pilot's license, developed the first airplane to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and the first to carry a passenger in a sea plane. Curtiss also was the inventor of the twist-grip throttle, the Hammond biplane, and the aircraft carrier. Eventually, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world with over 20,000 employees.source

[ | Air and Space Smithsonian]


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