Hero or Villain? There's no question that Glenn Curtiss was one of the most significant figures in the early development of motorcycles, aviation, and engine development. This book will take you on a journey through both his life and his innovative technological developments. And what a life it was. Descriptions of this man prove to be contradictory and controversial. He was quiet, yet dashing. Kind, yet stern. Uneducated, yet a technological and entrepreneurial pioneer. He began his inventing career by building and racing motorcycles, while creating new internal combustion engines, then moved on to work with dirigibles, airplanes (particularly seaplanes), community development, and travel trailers. In the end, Glenn Curtiss - a man respected by contemporaries for his character - went to his grave accused of fiduciary irresponsibility and patent theft. His bitter patent disputes with the Wright Brothers leave many wondering whether Curtiss should be seen as a hero or a villain when his place in history is considered. Hell-Rider to King of the Air examines Curtiss's life, career, and accomplishments in an engaging and accessible way, so that readers can answer that question for themselves.
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Kirk W. House was Curator or Director-Curator of the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York for six and a-half years, after spending twenty-one years as a schoolteacher and administrator. Widely known as a historian of early aviation, he has written extensively on the subject (including two earlier books and nine encyclopedia entries), while making several appearances on national television. "That open-cockpit era has always fascinated me," he says "...the days when men and women set off across a countryside that was encountering wings for the first time. I'm also absorbed by the human and social side of innovation - how those factors drive the process, and the actors in this process find themselves changed in turn by the transformations they have wrought. Curtiss is a natural for that field of study, and his life makes a whale of a story." Kirk House holds degrees from Rhode Island College and from Lehigh University. He is now an independent writer, editor, and researcher, working largely in the fields of history and of tourism. He lives with his wife and their two sons in Bath, New York.Review:
It's well written, well researched, and does an especially fine job revealing the intricacies of the era. -- Jim Quinn, Writer in residence, National Inventors Hall of Fame
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