Recalling Glenn Curtiss on a Flight into Albany Intercontinental

Versie Dortch

As I appeared down at the scenic Hudson River Valley for the duration of a flight to Albany, New York, (KALB) this 7 days, I considered about aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, who manufactured a similar trip additional than 110 many years back.

Curtiss flew reduced and slower, stored an eye on chimney smoke to help in studying the wind, and produced two pit stops on the way. In my circumstance the Garmin G5 in my Commander 114B’s panel exhibited a small arrow indicating wind way and pace. I didn’t will need to comply with the river intently for the reason that I could observe the magenta line on the GPS screen. In truth of the matter, I remaining that to the autopilot for significantly of the flight. This may possibly have offended Curtiss. In his working day flying was a bodily demanding challenge.

At 5,500 ft I felt calm as I tweaked energy settings, adjusted the cabin air vents, and took in the surroundings. Soon after clearing the hills about 30 miles south of Albany, I descended to 3,500 and named Approach. I was making a round vacation from Sussex Airport (KFWN) in New Jersey as part of a long-term examine of our large airport network, like Albany’s fascinating historical past.

Albany Global Airport and aviation in general have innovative noticeably given that Curtiss manufactured his watershed flight in 1910. [Credit: Jonathan Welsh]

Targeted traffic was reasonable, so I obtained numerous vectors in advance of achieving a left foundation for Runway 19, switching to the tower and being cleared to land. “Number two guiding the 757 on a right foundation,” the controller stated, with a note to be aware of wake turbulence. That was my first time adhering to an airliner to the runway. I feel Curtiss would have been impressed by that working experience but nonetheless would have regarded as me a bit much too sheltered in the Commander’s comfortable cockpit.  

For the 1910 flight, he sat on a plank-like seat of his Curtiss Pusher in the open up air. He wore fishing waders, leather-based jacket, and hat for warmth, goggles for protection, and flotation gear in circumstance he had to ditch in the Hudson. The airplane experienced crisis floats as nicely. It may well have appeared as if he was flying across an ocean as a substitute of down a river.

But take into account the era. It was May perhaps 29, 1910, when Curtiss took off from a farm discipline on the outskirts of Albany for a flight to Manhattan. Aviation was in its infancy. Curtiss and other pilots ordinarily flew their machines about fairgrounds or parade fields, wherever a lap or 

two would impress audiences. But the length of about 130 nm to Manhattan was viewed as so considerably that the New York Environment newspaper supplied $10,000 to the 1st pilot to finish the just one-way vacation. Curtiss acquired to select which direction he would fly and resolved on touring southbound due to favorable winds, according to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York. 

Following about two and a half hrs, Curtiss arrived in New York Metropolis to declare his prize. There ended up however good landing fields offered in the area again then, and no Course B airspace restricting a pilot’s selections. Curtiss conveniently set a distance document and took credit history for the first correct cross-region, level-to-point flight in the U.S. The feat also modified the outlook for aviation, confirming its probable as transportation, not merely entertainment.

Years earlier I covered some of the similar territory as a university student through my very long cross-state solo. Traveling the middle leg concerning Columbia County Airport (1B1), just south of Albany, and Orange County Airport (KMGJ) in a Cessna 172M with a sectional on my lap (no GPS), I recognized I could observe the Hudson south for at minimum 30 nm prior to acquiring to flip west toward Orange. This was a revelation at the time.

The route I took was for a longer period but extra intriguing than the direct variation. It was February, the river was frozen, and I could see icebreakers at get the job done, combating to keep the transport lanes open up. This diversion was treasured. It gave me a far better really feel for the plane, the regional landscape, and my navigational abilities. I was not prepared to cross an ocean still but was assured I could however uncover Orange County on my new course.

For Curtiss, the river was the most trusted guidebook into the metropolis. Now we can use GPS, VOR, and thorough charts. We can also follow interstate highways or only intention for the prominent skyline. These means were not offered to Curtiss. Aviation has come a extended way.

So has the Albany Airport. From farm and polo fields that early pilots utilized to the 1928 variation with a number of turf runways to today’s worldwide facility, the position has extensive been a hub of aviation activity and carries on to be an inviting spot for general aviation. Million Air, the FBO, is a excellent location for meetings or to choose up a rental automobile. There are crew autos for shorter visits into city.

The tower was sympathetic as effectively. As I taxied to the FBO, I heard a controller tell a Southwest 737 that was about to change from a parallel taxiway to “make way for the Commander on your ideal.”

It felt like they experienced been searching forward to my arrival.

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