This is an event that I never thought I would see; the launch and taxi of the replica Curtiss 'America' - the forerunner of all the large Curtiss and Felixstowe flying boats of WWI fame, on Sunday 16th September 2007 close to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, Hammondsport, New York State, USA on the shores of Lake Keuka. Courtesy of our (very) special correspondent Michael Robinson, exclusive to SEAWINGS, are these highly detailed images showing the launch and close-up details from the day. Click here to visit the museum web site - very interesting and well worth a visit.

I'll leave Mike to describe the day in his own words:-

"I managed to worm and sneak my way through the crowd to get access to the shoreline docks, where I waited in anticipation for "America" to be unveiled. My wait was rewarded, as she was towed along the waterfront to the ramp for a recreation of the actual Christening back in 1914. With actors dressed in period attire, the America was rechristened and then turned around. The twin OX-5 Engines started on the first pull, and the sound was absolutely spine tingling. Twin OX-5's with the noise from the props, took you right back to 1913 when tests were being carried out on Keuka Lake by Glenn Curtiss. Unfortunately, all America could do this year was taxi around. The wind was a bit too high for a first flight, plus the reproduction weighed in at over 500 pounds more than the original. The original America was also powered by two Curtiss OXX-6 engines, which developed 110 HP each, as opposed to the 90 HP OX-5's fitted. The museum has two OXX-6 engines that were supposed to be rebuilt and installed in time, but the machine shop doing the work never completed them in time, so the OX-5's were fitted for the unveiling. It still looked and sounded wonderful, and watching her taxi around in front of the crowd, she looked like she was in one/half of her element. Next year, with new engines a and a diet, this grand lady should be able to take to the air and be in her other half.

Although she is a fairly large aircraft, as I looked at her and pondered what her original role was, I couldn't help but think that she probably would not have been able to complete the trip. When you consider it took 4 NC series of boats to make the Atlantic crossing in 1919, each with 4 engines each, and twice the size, and only one of them made it, I don't think America would have been able to complete the trip with just the two engines and limited size that she is. It doesn't matter though, because she's still a beautiful airplane, and the Curtiss Museum's dedicated staff of volunteers and craftsmen have built a replica that is both visually stunning, and still captures the look and the era of the machines we take for granted now, 93 years later".

Our grateful thanks goes to Mike and his family for the extensive time and trouble taken to bring us all this exclusive gallery. Many thanks, Mike.

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