Curtiss Autoplane
Autoplane as shown at Pan-American Aeronautical Exposition of 1917
Role Roadable aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Curtiss
Designer Glenn Curtiss

The Curtiss Autoplane, invented by Glenn Curtiss in 1917, is widely considered the first attempt to build a roadable aircraft.[1] Although the vehicle was capable of lifting off the ground, it never achieved full flight.[2]

Development and design

The Autoplane was a triplane, using the wings from a Curtiss Model L trainer, with a small foreplane mounted on the aircraft's nose.[3] The Autoplane's aluminum body resembled a Model T and had three seats in an enclosed cabin, with the pilot/chauffeur sitting in the front seat and the two passengers side-by side to the rear.[4] It used a four-blade pusher propeller, and a twin-boom tail. A 100 horsepower (75 kW) Curtiss OXX engine drove the propeller via shaft and belts.[5][6] The aircraft had a four-wheel undercarriage, with the front two wheels being steerable. The wings and tail could be detached for use as an automobile.[7][8]

It was shown at the Pan-American Aeronautic Exposition at New York City in February 1917. It made a few short hops before the entry of the United States into World War I in April 1917 ended development of the Autoplane.[9]


Data from Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947[9]

General characteristics




  1. ^ Freedman, David H. (July 2000), "This is rocket science", Inc, 22 (10): 74–88
  2. ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (12 Apr 2009), "Ideas & Trends; Idea Whose Time Has Never Come", The New York Times, p. WK.5
  3. ^ Bowers 1979, p. 75.
  4. ^ "Glenn Curtiss Sees a Vision of Aviation's Future", Popular Science, July 1927
  5. ^ Espinoza, Javier (15 September 2011), "An Idea Without Wings; Progress has been made, but the idea of cruising at altitude over the afternoon rush-hour is far from becoming a reality", Wall Street Journal, p. R.4
  6. ^ Glines, C V; Wilkinson, Stephan (September 2008), "The Road Not Taken", Aviation History, 19 (1): 38–45
  7. ^ Bowers 1979, p. 76.
  8. ^ "At The American Aero Show – Some New Types: The Curtiss Autoplane". Flight. Vol. IX, no. 429. March 15, 1917. p. 245.
  9. ^ a b Bowers 1979, pp. 75–76.