Model “D” Headless Pusher is similar to Curtiss’s
earlier Standard Model “D” Pusher. Both had
tricycle landing gears and wing sections that could be
easily disassembled for transport. The only difference
is that this aircraft does not have the forward elevator.
This design difference came about in a most curious way.
Curtiss had demonstration pilots that would perform shows
around the country in the aircraft. The aircraft was constructed
to be taken apart in sections for ease of shipping. On
one occasion, the forward elevator was damaged and could
not be fixed in time for a performance. The promoter was
not very happy, as there were many in attendance that
had paid good money to see the airplane fly. The pressured
pilot decided to just take the front elevator off and
found that the aircraft performed much better without
In November of 1910,
civilian pilot Eugene Ely took a standard Curtiss Model
“D” and flew from a wooden platform built
on the bow of the USS Birmingham. Soon after, in January
of 1911, he landed the same Curtiss Pusher on a platform
aboard the Cruiser USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay.
The same day he took off from the ship and returned to
Selfridge Field, completing the earliest demonstration
of aircraft to shipboard operation. To further demonstrate
the adaptability of the Model “D”, the next
month the aircraft was fitted with floats and while he
taxied alongside the USS Pennsylvania, the ships crane
hoisted him on board. After lowering him again, he took
off and returned to base. In 1911 the Navy purchased two
“E” model Pushers and US Naval Aviation took
to the air the first time on July 1, 1911.
learn about the personal history of our very own Curtiss
Pusher Model "D" Headless Pusher as well as
comments from Kermit Weeks, please visit our beautiful
art deco facility and old-fashioned hangars.