Theodore Gildred Flight Rotunda

Theodore Gildred Flight Rotunda

One of the missions of the San Diego Air & Space Museum is to highlight San Diego's contribution to aviation. The aircraft in our Theodore Gildred Flight Rotunda exemplify this.

Flying high in the rotunda is a reproduction of an early hydroplane, the Curtiss A-1 Triad. Capable of operating from land or sea, the A-1 was the U.S. Navy's first airplane, and it too made its first flights in San Diego.

Exactly 73 years after Curtiss' first recorded flight of a practical hydroplane, the Museum's reproduction Curtiss A-1 made a total of 7 flights off the water of San Diego Bay: Two flights on January 12th, three flights on January 21st and two flights on January 26th, 1984. The FAA restricted the flights to a relative straight line less than 100' high near Harbor Island. The first two flights on January 12th were about 1/2 mile long less than 100' high. The next five flights, Jan 21st & 26th were all over a mile long and less than 100' high. The seven flights were made without the wheels installed and with an original Curtiss OX5 engine. It was then installed in its place of honor in the Rotunda.

Inspired by Charles Lindbergh's epic 1927 flight, San Diegan Theodore Gildred, Sr. took off from San Diego on March 13, 1931, in a Ryan B-5 Brougham, beginning a 19-day, 4200 mile goodwill flight to South America. Exactly 50 years later, Gildred's son, Theodore Gildred, Jr., recreated his father's famous flight, using a 1943 Stinson Reliant from the collection of the Air & Space Museum. After the successful completion of the 1981 commemorative goodwill flight, the Air & Space Museum donated the aircraft to the people of Ecuador to help them establish their own museum.

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