Glenn H

Thursday 8th February 1917

Glenn H. Curtiss unveiled his Autoplane, probably the world’s first roadworthy airplane, at the Pan-American Aeronautic Exposition in New York City. Flight magazine gave a full technical description of the Autoplane in its March 15, 1917 issue. Note that the word used for wing is “plane.” Plane derives from the Latin planum, “flat surface,” and had only recently started to be used as shorthand for the whole “machine.” A triplane is a craft with three sets of planes, i.e. wings.

‘This machine, one of the greatest attractions of the exhibition, gives a modern designer’s idea of the “limousine of the air.” The body is a combination of the motor car and aircraft practice, and follows very closely the lines of a modern limousine or coupé car-body. It is constructed mainly of aluminum, the windows being of celluloid. Elaborate upholstery and tapestries are employed for the interior, which accommodates two passengers in the rear and a “chauffeur” forward. Right in front is a circular radiator, through which passes a starting handle for the engine, a Curtiss OXX 100 h.p., which is located under the bonnet. From the engine, power is transmitted through a shaft, extending to the rear of the body, to the four-bladed propeller located at the top. There is a pair of wheel fore and aft, mounted in a similar way as on the Curtiss tractor triplane. The axle of the front pair, however, follows motor car practice in that the wheels are pivoted and connected to the control so as to enable the machine to be steered on the ground. The triplane wings are also similar to the triplane tractor, except that they are staggered and the lower plane is of shorter span. The wing section is “F-2” with an angle of incidence of 4º and a dihedral angle of 3º to the lower plane. The top plane is connected to a cabane mounted on the roof of the “car,” whilst the centre and lower planes are attached to the body itself. Covered-in K-shaped interplane struts separate the planes, and interconnected ailerons are fitted to top and centre planes. The tail is carried by a pair of horizontal tubular outriggers attached to the centre plane. The tail surfaces consist of a rectangular horizontal stabiliser, divided elevators, rudder and triangular vertical fin. Mounted on the bonnet, just above the front wheels, is a small plane. The general dimensions are as follows: – Span (top and centre) 40 ft. 6 ins., (bottom) 23 ft. 4 ins.; chord (top and centre) 4 ft., (bottom) 3 ft. 6 ins., gap, 3 ft. 3 ins.; stagger, 11 ins.; overall length, 27 ft.; height 10 ft.; width of body, 3 ft. 6ins.; speed range, 45-65 m.p.h.; useful load, 710 lbs.’

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