The Ubiquitous Curtiss Pusher

The 1912 headless Curtiss Pusher captured the imagination of replicators as representative of classic early flight, and it has appeared many times in its basic shape, modified with modern materials, improved control characteristics and often more dependable powerplants. Listed here in numerical order by registrations:

[NR8Y] - Second Parker Pusher (aka Parker-Curtiss), with a rebuilt 90hp OX-5. Might have been built by Otto Timm. Last known in Tallmantz collection, Orange County CA, c.1968.

[NX62E] - The first and most notable version was the Parker Pusher, a 50hp Gnôme-powered version built in 1914 by William "Billy" Parker and continually modified during its lengthy flying career. Later with 80hp LeRhône.

[N66U] - The third Parker Pusher (aka Parker-Curtiss), also with a rebuilt 90hp OX-5. Used by Parker in exhibition work sponsored by Phillips Petroleum Co into the 1960s.

[1010C] - No data found.

[3378] - Timm-built replica of 1927 was flown at the 1932 Nationals by Al Wilson, who was killed when he crashed after being caught in the down-wash of a passing autogyro.

[N1911D] - Curtiss Silver Streak replica by Dale Crites, Waukesha WI, c.1954; 90hp OX-5. Based closely on Curtiss E-8-75.

[4124A] - 1911 Curtiss D by Cole Palen, Rhinebeck NY, 1957. No data.

[N4161K] - Fife-Beachey by Ray Fife; 80hp LeRhône. Definitely not a Curtiss Pusher, but embodies many features of the 1912 Racer. Built 1951.

[N5599N] - 1914 Eaton-Beachey replica by Albert Dudek, Cleveland OH, 1949; 80hp LeRhône. Owned by Ed Weeks.

  [NX5704N] (E D Weeks coll)

[NX5704N] - Bullock-Curtiss replica, built by Walter Bullock; 75hp Continental. More currently owned by author Peter Bowers.

[N631WB] - Beachey replica by Walter Bullock; 80hp LeRhône. Owned by Vern Dallman 1989, lately at Santa Monica Museum of Flight.


[N68014] - 1911 Curtiss D replica by Cole Palen. 80hp Hall-Scott.

[NR=N8234E=NX18969] c/n 1 - Three-quarter scale replica built by John D Pruett (Crosby MO) in 1960; 65hp Continental C-65. Flown extensively in exhibitions by Frank Tallman into the late 1970s.

[R10362] - Beachey-Curtiss replica, unknown builder, registered to Chicago Air Terminals Inc, Garden City NY, 1930; 90hp OX-5.

[13233] - No data.

  [N13604] (Frank Rezich coll)

[NR13604] - Curtiss replica, 125hp Warner. DoC register notes builder as A/C Design Engineering, 1933. Reportedly badly damaged in a ground fire, rebuilt and flown by Clarence MacArthur at the 1936 Nationals. Seen in Texas 1941.

[24034] - 1912 original restored by EAA for their museum. No data.

[N94299] - The venerable Waldo Waterman celebrated the 56th anniversary of his first flight by flying his 1965 Early Bird replica on July 1 of that year. Used Vought UO-1 tail and wings.

[x] - Nolan (name on tail) Pusher, 1935 Timm replica rebuilt 1938 by Paul Mantz crew for film, "Men With Wings;" 90hp OX-5.

[x] - 1912 replica, with several modifications, built under the personal direction of Glenn Curtiss at Garden City, likely for nostalgic reasons, in now at NASM.

[x] - June Bug II replica, built 1976; no data.

[x] - Lea Abbott, Dallas TX, built c.1980; no data.

This is from a pilot's instruction sheet included with the 1911 Curtiss Pusher, very likely the first "How To Fly" book, some of it devised with a taint of black humor:

Rules Governing the Use of Aeronautical Apparatus

1. The aeronaut should seat himself in the apparatus, and secure himself firmly to the chair by means of the strap provided. On the attendant crying: "Contact," the aeronaut should close the switch which supplies electric current to the motor, thus enabling the attendant to set the same in motion.

2. Opening the control valve of the motor, the aeronaut should at the same time grasp the vertical stick or control pole which is to be found directly in front of the chair. The power from the motor will cause the device to roll gently forward and the aeronaut should govern its direction of motion by use of the rudder bars.

3. When the mechanism is facing into the wind, the aeronaut should open the control valve of the motor to its fullest extent, at the same time pulling the control pole toward his (the aeronaut's) middle anatomy.

4. When sufficient speed has been attained, the device will leave the ground, and assume the position of aeronautical ascent.

5. Should the aeronaut decide to return to terra firma, he should close the control valve of the motor. This will cause the apparatus to assume what is known as the "gliding position," except in the case of those flying machines which are inherently unstable. These latter will assume the position known as "involuntary spin," and will return to earth with no further action of the part of the aeronaut.

6. On approaching closely to the chosen field or terrain, the aeronaut should move the control pole gently toward himself, thus causing the mechanism to alight more or less gently on terra firma.