During World War I, over 90% of American pilots learned to fly in the Curtiss JN. Better known as the Jenny, the Curtiss JN series is the Model N designed by Glenn Curtiss combined with the Model J designed by British engineer B. Douglas Thomas. This joint project began when Curtiss met Thomas, then working at Sopwith Aviation, during a tour of England. Afterwards, Curtiss hired him to design a two-seat, tractor airplane around the Curtiss-built OX-5 engine.
The JN-4D was introduced in June 1917, only two months after the US declared war on Germany. Principal design changes for this model included a control stick substituted for the control wheel, ailerons only on the upper wing, and curved cutouts on the inner trailing edges of all four wing panels. This last change provided easier cockpit entry and exit.
During the war, Curtiss and six other American companies delivered 6,070 JN series aircraft to the U.S. Air Service, with Curtiss supplying 4,895 of the total. Thousands more were produced by British Commonwealth companies as the Curtiss “Canuck”.
After the war, the US government sold surplus military equipment to the public. Glenn Curtiss bought back $20 million worth of airplanes and engines at a cost of 13 cents on the dollar. He then marketed the many civilian applications of the Jenny, which included pleasure flying, commuting, aerial photography, policing, and exhibition flying (better known as barnstorming). Among those who purchased a surplus Jenny was a young Charles Lindbergh, who paid $500 for one in 1923. The Jenny in our collection is an original JN-4D built by the St. Louis Airplane Co. in 1917, and was last used by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Georgia.