My father's side of the family hearkened from
the Buffalo, New York area (Lackawanna and West Seneca, to
be more specific), but we lived in Mayo, Maryland, where my mother's family
resided. Most summers my father's sister, Bonnie (my aunt)
and her husband, Brian (my uncle) would load my grandparents
and another uncle or two into their big cruiser and drive down for a week. It was
always a great time. Every five years or so, my parents braved a trip with my siblings
and me up to Buffalo. I loved it up there because of the cool weather.
Sometime around 1972, we made the trek and while there, in-between going to Niagara
Falls, Crystal Beach, and other nearby attractions, I built the Curtiss JN4-D Jenny
biplane shown below. My Uncle Brian cleared a spot in his basement for me to work.
I left it for him as a decoration. The years passed... and passed... and passed.
Melanie and I move to Erie, Pennsylvania in the spring of 2008. Erie is 100 miles
from Buffalo. Oddly, it is closer to both Cleveland and Buffalo than it is to Pittsburgh,
but I digress. We visited Bonnie and Brian last year when their daughter Beth (my
cousin) got married, but we did not have an opportunity to go to their house. Well,
yesterday, May 13, 2011, Melanie and I went over to spend the day and catch up on
the last 30 years. When we arrived, Brian led me into their dining room and there
sitting on the table was my old Curtiss Jenny! What a great surprise that was. With
all the moving around we have done, and the fact that I destroyed most of what I
touched as a kid, I had no other relic from the past except a high school yearbook.
The Jenny now occupies an honored spot on my hobby room wall.
Here is my circa 1972 Comet Curtiss JN4-D
My Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) number, 92498, is still the same as it
was back then. I never have been able to determine with certainty when I first joined
the AMA, but clearly it was sometime before the Jenny was built.
In looking at the quality of construction and covering, it is no wonder my free
flight planes of the day never flew well - if at all. Maybe I'll use the excuse
that it was never really meant to fly, but man, is the covering job horrendous!
It tips the scale at 2.2 ounces (62 g). It is a balsa, tissue, and dope brick!
Oh well, perhaps that is what gave it the staying power all these years. Thanks
to my aunt and uncle, the Jenny is now hanging from a bedroom wall. It's good to
see an old friend again.
I might just look for an old Comet Jenny kit on eBay and build another - this
time one that will actually fly!
Posted May 14, 2011