The Army's First Two Dozen

During the period of 1911-1914, parts of wrecks, as well as some operating aircraft, were often used for other ships and, in many instances, combined to create one usable aircraft, retaining the s/n of the largest part. This, along with the lack of proper documentation, created much confusion for historians.

   This is why Aerofiles limits this presentation to the 24 original flying machines of the Aviation Section, U S Signal Corps—the foundation of our Air Force. There are enough question marks in what follows to tweak even the most blasé viewer. Enjoy, just don't ask.

[SC1] = Wright Military Flier (this is often seen as a Model A, which was the ship used by the Wrights in demonstrations for the Army at Ft Myer VA and which crashed on 9/17/08, killing passenger Lt Thomas Selfridge and serious injuring Orville Wright). Delivered 6/2/09 (>6/3/09), purchased for $25,000, plus $5,000 bonus after Orville Wright exceeded the 40mph speed requirement with Lt Frank Lahm as passenger on 7/27/09. Used for dual flight instruction at College Park MD, then Ft Sam Houston TX in early 1910. On 3/3/11, the Army placed an order for two all-new Wright Bs, plus a proposal that the well-used and abused Military Flier be upgraded as a B at the Wright factory in Dayton. The Wrights argued that plan was not realstic, that it was two-year-old technology. Instead it was donated to the Smithsonian on 5/4/11 for restoration and preservation there.

[SC2] = Curtiss D. Crashed into a tree soon after arrival at Ft Sam Houston and required major repair. Crashed there again 5/10/11, killing pilot Lt George E M Kelly (for whom Kelly Field was named). Rebuilt 11/15/11, and 4-cyl engine taken from SC6. A single-seater, initially it was used for taxi training and preliminary flights ("grass-cutters"), therein suffering many damages and repairs. Transferred to San Diego in Nov 1912 with SC6 and SC8. There, on 1/29/13, after a motor failure and forced landing, Lt Lewis Goodier dismounted and attempted to prop it from in back. However, he had forgotten to pull the throttle back to idle, and the motor started full power. Hanging onto its frame, he was dragged along as it picked up speed until he finally had to let go. Reportedly the ship rose to about 30 feet before crashing. Goodier suffered only a few bruises and a severe reprimand, and SC2 was again repaired, this time with a new Curtiss Model O engine. Crashed 5/9/13, killing Lt Joseph Park. Rebuilt over a period of four months, during which time it was erroneously reported as destroyed, and resumed flight training until 6/16/14, when it was declared surplus after a relatively long career and sold minus its engine.

[SC3] = Wright B. Accident 8/28/13 in the Philippines, damaged beyond economical repair after engine failure. Pilot survived, no passenger carried.

[SC4] = Wright B. First Wright model with a traditional tail. Crashed at College Park MD 9/28/12, killing pilot and passenger.

[SC5] = Burgess F, accepted 10/10/11.

[SC6] = Curtiss E. To San Diego in Nov 1912.

[SC7] = Wright C. Crashed at College Park soon after delivery, killing student pilot Lt Leighton Hazelhurst and Wright Co instructor Allen Welch. The next crash killed Lt Lewis Rockwell and Cpl Frank Scott on 9/28/12. Six of seven Cs crashed with seven fatalities. Lt Frank Lahm survived a ditching in Manila Bay and Lt Henry H Arnold had a narrow escape on a take-off stall in November 1912. Because of these and Curtiss accidents, the Army banned pusher planes in 1914.

[SC8] = Curtiss E. To San Diego in Nov 1912. Possibly on twin floats.

[SC9] = Burgess H with 78hp Renault V-8. Crashed 5/27/14.

[SC10] = Wright C. Wing collapse and crash into San Diego Bay 2/9/14, killing Lt Henry Post. Another of this group of five Cs crashed on takeoff off Manila 9/12/13; details unknown.

[SC11] = Wright C.

[SC12] = Wright C. Stalled and crashed in Manila Bay 11/14/13. Pilot killed.

[SC13] = Wright C.

[SC14] = Wright C.

[SC15] = Curtiss F. Crashed into San Diego Bay 4/8/13. One killed, one survived.

[SC16] = Wright C.

[SC17] = Burgess I Scout. Aborted takeoff and crashed off Corregidor 1/12/15. Pilot survived. Also reported as having crashed in the Philipines in Jan 1913. Baugher suspects these are the same accident, with the correct year being 1913. Contrary to some reports, Wright did not make a military Model I or J, but handed those designations to Burgess Co with the production license.

[SC18] = Burgess J Scout. Similar to Wright C but curved wing. Crashed 9/4/13. Pilot killed.

[SC19] = Wright D Scout. Single-seater considered too "hot" by the Army for its high landing speed. Decommissioned 2/24/14.

[SC20] = Wright D Scout. Decommissioned 2/24/14.

[SC21] = Curtiss G. Two-place side-by-side seats. 80hp Curtiss O.

[SC22] = Curtiss G.

[SC23] = Curtiss E.

[SC24] = Burgess H.