Aerial Experiment Association Drome No. 3 June Bug Restyled as “Curtiss’ Loon” by John, late Oct., 1908.

I wasn’t able to uncover documentation supporting historians’ narratives, claiming Drome No. 3 Crutiss’ June Bug was designated as Drome No. 3A Loon. AEA’s H.Q., reports, etc., at Hammonsport used narrative was “the old June Bung” in mid October, ending the month McCurdy christened Curtiss’ “Thing”, as “Loon”, referring to waterfowl.

AVIATION:— By F. W. Baldwin. (A Lecture to be delivered by Mr. Baldwin at the University of Toronto, February 27, 1909). — It is a matter of encouragement to the Art of Aviation and the cause of Aviation in Canada, that a great Canadian University should be giving some thought to the subject of flying machines. Only a few years ago intelligent people scoffed at the idea of flying, and a man needed a good deal of courage to progress his faith in its ultimate accomplishment. Repeated failures had given rise to most unreasonable prejudice. Sweeping criticisms had put the problem in a class with perpetual motion……… The Curtiss “June Bug” as the third machine was called, was really the first aerodrome built by the Association which made satisfactory flights. Altogether this machine has made over a hundred flights varying in length from long jumps to sustained flights of 2 ½ miles. On July 4th, 1908 she won the Scientific American Trophy for the first heavier-than-air machine to fly a kilometer (under test conditions).

Aerial Experiment Association Glenn Curtiss' Loon’s pontoons framing under construction, Hammondsport N.Y., Oct., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Glenn Curtiss’ Loon’s pontoons framing under construction, near Hammondsport N.Y., Oct., 1908.

AEA’s Loon timeline letters, telegrams, etc., as fallows:—

 Curtiss to Aerial Experiment Association, Hammondsport, N.Y., Oct. 14, 1908:— We enclose reprints of the first two aeroplanes photographed together in America. The “June Bug” has been brought down and swung in the roof of the shed to make room for the “Silver-Dart” in the tent. G.H. Curtiss.

Beinn Bhreagh, Oct. 22, 1908:— In response to my letter to the President of the United States (Bulletin XIII pp 32–33) I have received a communication from the Asst. Secreattary of War to the effect that the War Department will detail an officer from the Signal Corps to be present in Hammondsport when the experiments with the new aerodrome are to be tried. I would suggest that both the June Bug and the Silver-Dart should be placed in condition for flight and that every information should be given to the officer who will succeed Lieut. Selfridge as the observer of our experiments in the interests of the United States Army. A.G.B.

Curtiss to Mrs. A. G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S., from Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 2, 1908:— We have been greatly pleased to hear of Casey and Mr. Bell’s success with hydroplanes. While we were temporarily held up for the motor for the “Silver-Dart”, John and I made a couple of light boats for the old “June Bug” to see what we could do on the water here, John’s theory being that we could lift by the aeroplane as well as by the hydroplane. John has named the thing “the Loon”. It is all ready to try if we get an opportunity. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome 3 Curtiss' June Bug, last view before being transformed into the “Loon”, at Hammondsport N.Y., Oct., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome 3 Curtiss’ June Bug, last view before being transformed into the “Loon”, near Hammondsport N.Y., Oct., 1908.

Curtiss to Bell, Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 11, 1908:— In the meantime, we are expecting to try the “Loon’s” ability to rise from the water. The enclosed prints show what she looks like without the engine, but with a man’s weight in the same position. Perhaps we have taken too much liberty in trying this experiment, but we thought no time was being lost and it would be fine to know what chances there are of raising from the boats. We will wire if anything startling occurs. G.H.C.

Curtiss to Mrs. A. G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S., Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 12, 1908:— In the meantime we have fitted the engine in the “Loon” (the June Bug converted into a “water bug”); however, if the wind abates we will try this to-day. We have already sent you pictures showing you this craft afloat. I think it will settle for once and all whether it is possible to rise from boats, as the engine is very powerful and will, we believe, give twice the push that will be needed in the air. If it will not rise from the water with this power, it will be up to Casey and his hydroplanes. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Curtiss to Dr. and Mrs. Bell, Baddeck, N.S., from Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 24, 1908:— I got somewhat discouraged Sunday and wired you about our troubles. I have not written before as we had nothing good to report. Most people don’t like excuses. On November 19 we had the “Loon” in the water and ready to start, as shown by enclosed print. The part extending through the surface above is the radiator. Everything was fine until just about to give the word “go” when a cylinder blew off. It was a flaw in the casting. I was in a boat with the big camera to get a good picture of her under way. I snapped this just after the accident happened. The cylinder may be seen out of place. The other picture shows the disheartened crowd pushing the “Loon” back to the shed. It is mounted on a two wheel cart made especially for it. An interesting fact in connection with these experiments is that the boats are covered with rubber cloth and have not leaked at all. Would you care for these two pictures in shape for the Bulletin; if so, wire and we will get them ready……….(Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome 3 transformed into Curtiss' Loon, Near Hammondsport , N.Y., Oct., 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome 3 transformed into Curtiss’ Loon, near Hammondsport, N.Y., Oct., 1908.

McCurdy To A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S., Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 25, 1908:— We have not written up a detailed description of the experiment to be tried on the water with the “Loon” because we thought it would sound better after we had tried it out. I have made notes of all the changes made in its construction in my note book with the dates attached. Won’t it be fine if, it proves a success. I think that if we can manage to maintain a constant push of 25o–300 lbs. we will do the trick. Mr. Curtiss thinks that to-morrow will see the engine as he wants it and if all goes well the “Loon” will make its debut. 12 That will only be a matter of a few hours and then the engine will go right up the Valley, to be installed in the “Silver-Dart”. Please understand that no time has been lost in the “Loon” experiment. It was simply made ready in spare time while we had nothing to do except wait for the completion of the engine. (Signed) J.A.D. McCurdy.

Telegram Curtiss to A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S., Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 27, 1908:— The weight of the engine has also been reduced and the chain transmission added without increasing the weight of these parts. It is safe, therefore, to figure the entire power plant under 300 pounds, and I believe we will get a push from the propeller of 350 or more. The alterations on the engine have been completed and it is in the “Loon” ready for trial. We are looking for a quiet afternoon to-day. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Telegram McCurdy to Bell, Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 28, 1908:— Loon made two miles with and against five mile wind in four minutes twenty-six seconds Lift very marked, but not sufficient to take the air. Engine and transmission fine. Will install in Silver-Dart to-morrow and have first trial. (Signed) J.A.D. McCurdy.

 Curtiss' Loon, in route to Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 5, 1908.

Curtiss’ Loon, in route to Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 5, 1908.

Telegram McCurdy to Bell, Hammondsport, N.Y. Nov. 29, 1908:— Tried Loon this afternoon. Made speed calculated at 20 miles an hour. Boats lifted considerably but propeller shaft sheared before Loon took to the air. An early trial to-morrow will decide the question. (Signed) J.A.D. McCurdy.

LETTERS FROM MEMBERS, Curtiss to Bell, To A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Dec. 2, 1908: — We have had two trials of the “Loon”, one Saturday the 28th, and one Sunday the 29th. The engine with our new domes runs all right. In the first trial, after going a few hundred yards, the propeller sheared off. We have been a little afraid of this and in fitting it up for Sunday we used a new fastener. We also opened the auxiliary ports to get more power. On Sunday’s trial a run of two miles was made in a little less than 4 ½ minutes. The boats raised at the bow, but the sterns dragged, although after they got under headway there was very little wave motion. The engine was turning over about 1000 revolutions and driving an 8 ft. propeller. The experiment makes it apparent that it will take a great amount of power to get these boats out of water, as we now have perhaps twice more than would be needed to fly after getting in the air. Those hydroplanes you have been building begin to look good to us. We have not given up, however, as a little wind on the water is not at all prohibitive. We hope to try again with better success, even though we do not have the good weather we have been favored with. The engine has been transferred to the Silver-Dart, which is fitted with new chain transmission, gear pump, oiler, ten gallon gasoline tank and a new propeller. We are having quite a storm to-day, and are unable to do anything at the tent. We are ready, however, for the first opportunity. We sent three pages of “Loon” pictures for the Bulletin on Tuesday. Trust they reach you in time for this week’s issue. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Prof. Alec G. Bell’s Visit To Hammondsport, Report Accounted December 28, 1908:— I spent Sunday and Monday (Dec. 20 & 21) at Hammondsport, N.Y., and examined with interest our Drome N o. 4, McCurdy’s Silver-Dart, and our Drome No. 3, Curtiss’ June Bug, placed upon floats and renamed the Loon………. I was much interested in seeing the Loon although no opportunity presented itself for a trial during my stay in Hammondsport. I was somewhat surprised that the Loon, in former experiments, failed to rise from the water without hydro-surfaces for it seems to have made a speed of about 23 miles an hour. After seeing the floats, however, I can well understand the failure to rise, for they are triangular in cross section and placed flat side down. Imagine a boat with a flat deck placed upside down in the water so that instead of resting upon its keel it floats deck side down. I can well imagine that under such circumstances the suction of the water, when the machine is going 20 miles an hour or more, would be sufficiently great to prevent rising into the air. The hydro-surfaces now fitted below the catamaran structure appear enormous as compared to those used in Baldwin’s experiments here. They are beautifully made, of wood, and present the curved surface that has proved so successful here. The submerged surfaces, however, judging from our experiments here are much too large, presenting probably more than ten times the surface used by Baldwin. I have not yet heard what results have been obtained with them in Hammondsport. A.G.B.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome No. 3 Restyled as Curtiss' Loon, on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 5, 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome No. 3 Restyled as Curtiss’ Loon, on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 5, 1908.

To Mrs. A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S., From Hammondsport, N.Y., Dec. 22, 1908:— *** Mr. Bell left yesterday after a day’s stay……….. The engine will follow as soon as the “Loon” with its hydroplanes are tried and some shop tests made which, however, will not take long. I am sorry we could not have finished up and gone back with Mr. Bell. We should have liked very much to have been with you during the holidays. Wishing you a merry Christmas, I am (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Means to A.G. Bell, Baddeck, N.S. 196 Beacon St. Boston, Mass, Dec. 25, 1908:— I want to thank you most heartily for all the kindness and hospitality shown to me at Hammondsport………. The “Loon” is a great machine as she is now rigged with her floats and her hydro-curves. I am looking forward to the time when she first flies from the water. That will be an epoch making day! I have now in the Patent Office eight applications for patents on flying machine accessories. Most of my claims have already been allowed. As soon as my patents are issued I shall take the liberty of sending copies to you. Please give my regards to Mr. Curtiss and Mr. McCurdy if they are with you and please give them my thanks for the kindness they have shown to me. Wishing you a very happy new year, I am (Signed) James Means.

Telegram Curtiss to Bell. Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 1, 1909:— Expect to try “Loon” today. Have seventy miles pitch speed, and two hundred and seventy-five lbs. pull. Seven and one-half foot propeller. Direct drive. Revolutions nine hundred and sixty. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss

Telegram Curtiss and McCurdy to Bell. Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 2, 1909:— Gave vaudeville performance to-night by moonlight with “Loon”. First hydro test successful, second aerodrome test fairly successful, third submarine test most successful of all. Experiments ended. (Signed) Curtiss and McCurdy.

Curtiss to Mrs. A.G. Bell, Baddeck, From N.S. Hammondsport, N.Y., Jan. 2, 1909:— John is planning to leave this afternoon for Baddeck, although we have not had an opportunity to try the “Loon”. Everything has been ready now for some time awaiting favorable weather conditions. Lucien and his school-mate were here for a day or two last week, and I believe John is going by way of Toronto. I am sorry we could not have made the tests with the “Loon”, but it is pretty slow business in the winter time when you have to wait a week or more at a time for a good day and then something may happen to prevent a successful trial….. (Signed) G.H. Curtiss.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss' Loon, on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 28, 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss’ Loon, on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 28, 1908.

TRIAL OF THE LOON, JAN. 2, 1909: By J.A.D. McCurdy. Beinn Bhreagh, Jan. 9, 1909:— On January 2, 1909 the “Loon”, fitted with its hydrosurfaces, was taken from the shed over to the head of the Lake. After she was placed in the water between her docks the engine was started by Mr. Curtiss and the operator’s seat taken by McCurdy. At the signal to let go she started sluggishly forward, and after running for about 100 yards rose on her hydro-surfaces with the pontoons completely out of water. Immediately it was noticed that instead of running smoothly as was anticipated, gradually gaining in speed, a tremendous commotion was created in the water by the hydrosurfaces, and the maximum speed attained by the machine seemed to be about 8 or 10 miles an hour. After running down the Lake for a short distance the machine showing no increase of lift, the engine was accidentally shut off by the breaking of an electric wire; there being no wind, however, she was easily towed back to the dock by means of a row-boat. Newspaper men on shore reported that the machine was seen flying over the Lake and were very enthusiastic about what they thought a flight. Their impression, however, was derived from the fact that, although the boats themselves were out of the water, they didn’t realise that the hydro-surfaces were still on the water. We were satisfied by this time that the hydro-surfaces, as had already been suggested by Mr. Bell, were “ten times too large”. They had been made to fit to the boats in sockets so that they could be easily removed. With the aid of this construction and the help of a saw the hydro-surfaces were entirely removed from the boats.

The first trial had been made after five o’clock in the afternoon and it was, therefore, quite dark; but by the time everything was in readiness for a second trial the moon had come up and the whole Lake flooded with light. About seven o’clock the second trial of the “Loon” without hydro-surfaces was made. As she shot from the docks after the signal was given to let go, I felt a sudden jar and realized at the time that she had struck something projecting from the docks, however thought nothing more about it at the time as in a second or two we were well out on the Lake. She had her old speed back again this time and, although not measured, seemed to be about the same as in former experiments (27 miles an hour). The course taken was about half a mile down the Lake, turning and coming back. By this time the wind had risen to about, I should judge, 15 miles an hour, and so, before the rowboat could get up to me, I drifted to leeward of the dock about 100 feet. The machine was, however, easily towed to the dock, canal boat fashion, men walking along the shore pulling by means of a rope. No sooner, however, had we brought her abreast of the piers (the port pontoon being adjacent to the piers) than she began to sink, the starboard boat and wing going completely down in about 12 feet of the water. The boat had sprung a leak, that was a certainty, and it was a question among the men at the time whether the leak was caused by the jar as she was let go from the docks or whether I had run into some floating ice which was quite abundant. By means of rope and pries the “Loon” was hauled from the water without causing any damage to the machine, and investigation showed that the stern post of the starboard pontoon had been entirely ripped out by coming in contact with one of the posts of the piers as she was getting away. This left a hole about 18 inches high by 4 inches broad. While the machine was kept under way the water found no time to enter this hole but as soon as the machine was brought to a stand-still the water poured in and as it was comparatively dark it was unnoticed by the spectators. The machine was left on the shore for the night and taken to the shed early the next morning, January 3, where she was dismantled and put away for the winter. J.A.D. McC.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss' Loon Start, on Lake Keuka, failed to rise off the water near Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 28, 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss’ Loon Start, on Lake Keuka, failed to rise off the water near Hammondsport, N.Y., Nov. 28, 1908.

WATER-SPOUT CAUSED BY ROTATING PROPELLER: By J.A.D. McCurdy. Jan. 16, 1909:— During one of the experiments with the “Loon” at Hammondsport at curious phenomenon manifested itself while tuning up the engine at the head of Lake Keuka. The “Loon” had been placed in the water between the dock and held there by four men while the propeller was rotated rapidly by the engine; the idea being to have the engine in the best possible running order before letting the “Loon” go. No sooner had the propeller begun to rotate when it was noticed by those present including Mr. Curtiss and myself that a small water-spout was formed substantially directly under the plane of rotation of the propeller. It may have been a little bit behind this plane and my impression is that such was the case, although I could not say so definitely. This water-spout in the shape of a pyramid rose to a height varying between 10 and 18 inches, rising and falling between these limits according as the speed of the engine was accelerated or retarded. J.A.D. McC.

EDITORIAL NOTES AND COMMENTS. Dissolution of the A.E.A . April 5, 1909:— The Aerial Experiment Association came to an end by time limitation at midnight on the 31st of March 1909. The Trustee of the A.E.A . Mr. Charles J. Bell, Trustee of the A.E.A., is now the sole representative of the Association, the one remaining link to connect its part with whatever future may be in store for it. Everything belonging to the Association now passes into his hands as its representative:— Any tools and apparatus at Hammondsport, N.Y., including the aerodrome “June Bug”, or “Loon”, will be presented by me to Mr. Curtiss.






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