In the early 1900s aviation pioneer Glenn H. Curtiss was a key contributor to the development of the U.S Navy’s initial aviation program, including the first aircraft to launch from a ship. He invested much of his time and effort in seaplanes (aircraft fitted with floats instead of wheels or skids for landing gear) and his first seaplane designs, light, fast and maneuverable, were destined to become the most widely-built aircraft in the U.S. prior to the First World War.
In 1927, with Charles Lindbergh's record-breaking solo Trans-Atlantic flight, a new fascination with flying quickly took over the public, and an ever increasing number people yearned to fly their own airplane. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Garden City, New York saw this as a great opportunity to offer an affordable, durable, and easy to fly airplane for sale to the general public.
In 1911, the Deperdussin Company in France built a trim, single-seat racing plane that heralded the sleek aerodynamic designs of later years. The plane's performance was equal to its appearance. Not only did it win the Gordon Bennett Trophy in 1912; but it also became the first airplane to exceed 100 mph – setting a new world speed record of 108 mph.
Few aircraft bear the designer's imprint quite so clearly as the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The designer, Edward H. Heinemann, is a legend in the aircraft industry; and the Skyhawk is the ultimate embodiment of his simple, no frills approach to the creation of combat aircraft.
The military career of the Douglas DC series began in 1936 when the Army Air Corps ordered a pair of DC-2s under the designation C-32. A contract followed for 18 DC-2s in the C-33 freighter configuration and two more as C-34 staff transports. Then, in 1937, the Army ordered a plane built to its own specifications. It was a hybrid design that combined the fuselage of the DC-2 with a DC-3 tail.