In the early days of flight, Glenn Curtiss was the primary American
competitor to the Wrights. A major difference between the Wright and
Curtiss products was pilots controlled the planes. Curtiss' Model D
airplane was controlled with ailerons, small hinged control surfaces
mounted between the wings, rather than wing warping, which deformed the
entire wing and was protected by the Wright Brothers' patent. Curtiss
also used a different control system than the Wrights. While the Wrights
used a series of levers, Curtiss used a wheel to operate the front
elevator and rear rudder and operated the ailerons with a shoulder yoke.
This meant that when a pilot wanted to turn, he or she simply leaned in
the desired direction, just like riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
Like the Wright B, Model Ds were constructed with a pusher configuration, where the propeller is behind the pilot. Because of this configuration, they were often referred to as a "Curtiss pusher." Early examples were built in a canard configuration, with elevators mounted on struts at the front of the aircraft in addition to a horizontal stabilizer at the rear. Later versions dispensed with the front elevator and are often referred to as "headless" pushers.
When the U.S. Army purchased a Pusher in March 1911, it was designated
as S.C. No. 2 because it was the second plane owned by the Signal Corp
Division. S.C. no one was a Wright Military Flyer. The plane was
originally sent to the flying school at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Following
the fatal crash of Lieutenant George Kelly in May 1911, S.C. No. 2 was rebuilt
and shipped to the aviation school at College Park. It arrived with an
8-cylinder engine, but mechanics installed a less powerful 4-cylinder
engine to make it safer to train new pilots. The College Park pilots who
received instruction on how to fly this aircraft included Captain Paul
Beck, 2nd Lieutenant Frank M. Kennedy, and Captain Frederick B. Hennessy.
Completed in 2010, this reproduction Curtiss Model D Pusher was built by College Park Aviation Museum.