Video: The Navy's First Airplane
Retired Navy pilot Bob Coolbaugh had a vision: In 2008, he set out to build a replica of the first aircraft to make an arrested landing on a ship (an intentional arrested landing, anyway) in time for the 2011 Naval Centennial of Aviation. He knew the design was not an easy bird to manage in even in the best of conditions and was even told he'd kill himself in the first five hours. With the help of some friends, he completed his replica 1911 Curtis Pusher and has accumulated over 80 hours — and about 2,500 miles — flying it from airshow to airshow. It's an exhausting bird to fly, but Coolbaugh says exposing people to the earliest roots of aviation makes it all worthwhile.