HISTORY OF THE CURTISS JN-4
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.