Glenn Hammond Curtiss was born on May 21, 1878
, on the south end of Lake Keuka
Like the Wright Brothers, Curtiss was a bicycle maker. He later moved into motorcycle manufacturing, and in 1904 became known as the "fastest man on earth" when he was clocked at 136.6 mph at a motorcycle race in Ormond Beach, FL.
That same year, Curtiss was introduced to aviation when Thomas Scott Baldwin asked him to produce a 2-cylinder air-cooled engine to power an airship. Curtiss would later become a member of the Aerial Experiment Association, a group headed by Alexander Graham Bell. In 1908, the AEA designed Red Wing flew in what they claimed was "the first public flight by an airplane in the United States." Needless to say, this claim didn't go over well with the Wright Brothers, and would be the beginning of a feud, ultimately leading to litigation.
Curtiss first piloted an aircraft on his 30th birthday, flying the AEA designed White Wing, the first American aircraft to employ ailerons, and the first American aircraft to use wheels.
Curtiss went on to build the June Bug. Between 1908 and 1910, Curtiss and the June Bug won the Scientific American trophy, the Gordon Bennett trophy and a $10,000 prize for the first successful flight between Albany and New York City.
Curtiss would go on to design the first American float plane, the first flying boat, the first plane to fly from the deck of a ship, the first plane to cross the Atlantic, and the first Navy aircraft. And if that weren't enough, Curtiss also built the first travel trailer in 1917.
Curtiss made his last flight in May of 1930 when he flew a Curtiss Condor over the Albany-New York route. He died two months later.