Arguably North America’s most famous World War I aircraft, the Curtiss JN-4 (“Jenny”) was widely used to train beginner pilots with an estimated 95% of all trainees having flown in a Jenny. These aircraft were twin-seat dual control biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later known as the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. It was initially built with a Curtiss OX-5 V8 engine, flew at a top speed of 121 km/h and could fly at 2000 metres. It had a wood frame and was covered in fabric, with the preferred choice of wood being Sitka spruce.

Despite the Jenny being an American aircraft, a Canadian variant, called the “Canuck”, was built for the Royal Flying Corps in December 1916. There were several differences between both variants, with the Canuck sporting a lighter airframe, ailerons on both wings, differently shaped wings, a larger rudder, ect.

After the war there was a surplus of Jennies left over. Many were sold at a bargain price to private owners. Some were sold as low as $50, which is ~$850 in today's currency! When not used as training aircraft, the Jenny became synonymous with barnstorming. Barnstorming is a form of entertainment that started in the 1920’s that involves stunt pilots performing tricks and giving rides to eager customers. Many pilots from WWI continued flying as stunt pilots as barnstorming provided an excellent outlet for their creativity and showmanship. Barnstorming, and by extent the Jenny, helped open the door to civil aviation as this was the first time flying became easily accessible to the general public.


Our Cutiss JN-4 is a replica of a Jenny that was once owned by WWI flying ace Fred McCall. It was built by his son, Fred McCall Jr., and other volunteers who began building the replica at The Hangar and through an agreement was later transferred to be completed at the Glenbow Museum. The Jenny had been on display at the Glenbow since 2005 before returning to The Hangar in late 2020.


As for the original plane, it was bought by Fred McCall from the US Air Service in 1919. He flew the plane the same year at an aerial acrobatic show at the Calgary Exhibition, the precursor of the Calgary Stampede. While flying with two of the Exhibition manager’s children aboard, the Jenny’s engine failed. At the time there were no safety protocols for such a situation and McCall was flying over a busy fairground with many families out and about. With the precision of a flying ace, McCall managed to crash land on a carousel, with miraculously no fatalities. The image of a biplane on top of a carousel caused quite the stir. It must have been quite the memorable day for the two children aboard!


  • Wingspan of 13.29 metres (43 ft 7.375 in)
  • Height of 3 metres (9 ft 10.625 in)
  • Length of 8.33 metres (27 ft 4 in)
  • Maximum speed: 121 km/h (75 mph)
  • Rate of climb of 610 metres (2000 ft) in 7 minutes and 30 seconds

Fred McCall’s Jenny on the carousel at the Calgary Exhibition. Image credit: Glenbow Archives NA-1451-27.  


  • The name “Jenny” is derived from the “JN” designation.
  • Our Jenny has the profile of an Indigenous man painted on its sides. Fred McCall did not choose it as it was already on the aircraft when he bought it. The use of Native American iconography was common in the US Military, especially in WWI, but has since begun to fall out of style and many companies have changed or are changing their logos.
  • This biplane was a tractor-type aircraft, meaning the engine and propeller are found in the front. It was built this way because rear-engine pusher type aircraft had a high fatality rate.
  • Fred McCall was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1978.