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Alfred Solbrig Sitting on His Aviator Father's Curtiss Hydroaeroplane, ca. 1912

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Alfred Solbrig Sitting on His Aviator Father's Curtiss Hydroaeroplane, ca. 1912
Courtesy of State Historical Society of Iowa, ca. 1912


This photograph shows Albert Solbrig, son of aviator Oscar A. Solbrig, sitting on his father's Curtiss Hydroaeroplane. Oscar built a Curtiss type flying boat powered by a 50 h.p. Roberts motor in which he made one flight. Late in the afternoon and at dusk, he was unable to accurately determine the surface of the water and crashed upon landing. Only the Roberts motor was salvaged to be used in his next plane. He decided that operation from land offered better opportunities. In 1914, Oscar made a flight in his "humbly-made plane" over the city from the Davenport Race Track. Then he began to contract for exhibition flights, transporting the plane by rail after it was disassembled and secured in its crates. He made the first airmail flight in Illinois when he took off from Rock Island and delivered the sack of mail by dropping it near the Davenport post office. This plane which was built by him and his wife was soon replaced by a Curtiss Headless pusher, which he used in future exhibitions all over the midwest.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Look closely at the photo. Describe what you see.
  • The airplane in this photo is a hydroaeroplane, or a plane that can take off and land on water. Compare this with the Wright brothers' plane. What is the same? What is different?
  • What evidence from this photo and the Wright brothers photo helps you to determine how the changes in transportation affected people's lives?