Written by Sandy Rhodes

In 1911, while flying in the employment of Glenn Curtiss as test pilot and exhibition flyer, Lincoln Beachy took one of these into a steep dive, down into the Niagara Falls Gorge. Pulling out twenty feet above the water he passed under a suspension bridge and exited the quickly narrowing gorge on the other end. He helped demonstrate to American pilots how this Curtiss aircraft had superb handling characteristics compared to the competition, expressly the Wright Brothers.

Although this plane is a replica, the power plant is an original 80 hp. Hall-Scott, obtained from the National Air and Space Museum. It is an eight cylinder water-cooled engine with the radiator directly behind the pilot. This famous aeroplane can be seen flying during the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome airshows. Like many engines of this period, its valve train is completely open and requires manual lubrication. The timing gears, water pump gear, and distributor gear are also in the open. Early aviation engines typically required extensive maintenance at intervals as short as ten flying hours.

While most aircraft in 1911 required the friction of tail dragging to slow and stop them, this plane landed on a tricycle gear with a front brake. Another unique feature is the use of ailerons. Unlike the majority of aircraft of its time the Curtiss uses ailerons to control banking . The pilot sits inside of a control yoke that looks like chair arms and leans in the direction he wants to bank.

The photo above was taken February 2, 2002. The engine has been removed for inspection and replacement of worn parts. Notice the top center wing section is open to facilitate the engine removal and installation. In the foreground is a good view of the left aileron. Notice how it is mounted between the upper and lower wings. No control surface is attached directly to the wings. Despite all the time and money wasted in patent disputes with the Wrights, this plane in the hands of Lincoln Beachy did a lot to advance general interest in aviation.

You can see this Curtiss D Pusher fly every weekend of the show season at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, New York. Checkout their website at http://www.oldrhinebeck.org where you can find the 2002 show schedule. If you can visit the Aerodrome, it will be an experience you will never forget.

The Lincoln Beachy website at http://www.lincolnbeachey.com  A detailed history of this early aviator.

All rights reserved.  Copyright 2002 Tazbat Publishing
Most recent update 03.03.2004

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