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.