Filed Under Aviation

Flight Pioneers at Euclid Beach

Tens of thousands of people lining the shore of Lake Erie to watch a plane go by: while the idea seems ludicrous today, this is exactly what happened on August 31, 1910 when pioneering aviator Glenn Curtiss took off from Euclid Beach Park and headed west towards Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. His 60-mile trip took him one hour and eighteen minutes to complete, and set a world record for distance flown over water.

A crowd of 18,000 flocked to Euclid Beach to see his plane take off , and all across Cleveland people left their workplaces and headed outdoors to catch a glimpse of the 'birdman.' The scene was repeated the following day when Curtiss made his successful return trip from Cedar Point to Euclid Beach. For his efforts, Curtiss won a $5,000 prize, as well as the adoration of an entire city. Speaking at Euclid Beach before his flight, Curtiss looked towards the future, stating, "Within two years I expect to see aeroplanes which will carry at least ten passengers, being used as a means of transportation." Indeed, following his success in Cleveland, Curtiss continued to be a pioneer in the field of aviation, founding the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company (now part of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation) and working with the United States military to develop planes for use in battle.

Meanwhile, Cleveland's fascination with airplanes would continue in the years following Curtiss' flight, with the city becoming a key locale in the early aviation industry. In 1918, the city landed a spot on the first government airmail route. That same year, Glenn L. Martin opened a factory on St. Clair Avenue that produced the Martin MB bomber for the military. A number of companies that produced airplane parts sprung up in Cleveland in the 1920s and 1930s, as well. And the spectacle of Curtiss' flight would be reproduced on a much larger scale beginning in 1929, when Cleveland played host to the National Air Races for the first of many times.

Audio

'Out of the Haze He Appeared' The Cleveland Plain Dealer published this editorial on September 1, 1910 following Curtiss's successful flight from Euclid Beach to Cedar Point. Date: September 1, 1910

Images

Curtiss Prepares for Takeoff
Curtiss Prepares for Takeoff Glenn Curtiss sits in the cockpit of his plane as he prepares to depart Euclid Beach for Cedar Point on August 31, 1910. Fellow aviators James 'Bud' Mars (center) and Eugene Ely (right) stand at his side. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection Date: August 13, 1910
Curtiss After Landing
Curtiss After Landing Glenn Curtiss after landing at Euclid Beach following his return trip from Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Commemorative Postcard
Commemorative Postcard A postcard depicts Glenn Curtiss leaving Euclid Beach for Cedar Point. The Euclid Beach pier can be seen in the background. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Dudley Humphrey Scott
Dudley Humphrey Scott Dudley Humphrey Scott, the nephew of Euclid Beach Park owner Dudley S. Humphrey, takes a close look at Curtiss' plane as it sits on the beach under a tent. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Atwood Over Lake Erie, 1911
Atwood Over Lake Erie, 1911 Aviator Harry Atwood flies over Lake Erie as spectators look on in boats off of Euclid Beach. The New York Times reported that 30,000 people came to the amusement park to greet the aviator when he landed, and that 75,000 more gathered at various points along the city's shoreline to watch him fly by. Atwood stopped at Euclid Beach on his 12-day airplane trip from St. Louis to New York City in August 1911. The trip set a world record for long-distance flight. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection. Date: 1911
Atwood Lands on Euclid Beach
Atwood Lands on Euclid Beach Harry Atwood lands his plane on Euclid Beach in August 1911. The Euclid Beach bathhouse can be seen in the background. Atwood flew 1,265 miles on his journey, making eleven stops along the way. His actual time in the air was 28 hours and 31 minutes, giving him an average speed of 44 MPH. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection. Date: August, 1911
Atwood's Plane
Atwood's Plane Atwood's Burgess-Wright airplane sits on Euclid Beach following his landing. Before he landed at Euclid Beach, Atwood accidentally landed at Edgewater Park, several miles to the west, mistaking that beach for Euclid Beach. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection
On the Beach, 1905
On the Beach, 1905 Normally, the beach at Euclid Beach amusement park was the site of more typical activities - swimming, games, and the like. The grand bathhouse was where patrons would change and store their clothes while at the beach. Source: Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Date: 1905

Location

Euclid Beach, Cleveland, OH

Metadata

Michael Rotman, “Flight Pioneers at Euclid Beach,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 23, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/560.