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Flight Journal Podcast - Season 1 Episode 1 - 1917 Curtiss JN-4D Jenny

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1917 Curtiss JN-4D Jenny


This open cockpit canvas covered biplane is a WW1 trainer and Budd straps into an original Jenny (80% anyway), and goes for a trip around the patch. With only 90HP and was designed by Glenn Curtis in 1916. It was the very first mass produced aircraft with the controls laid out like we know today.


When Budd gets in, the airplane’s owner propped the engine and Budd manned the magneto and throttle. When the engine came to life, it didn’t sound like an airplane, with its V-8 engine, it sounded more like a tractor. Looking inside the cockpit Budd quickly realized that the Jenny has no brakes to help steer the airplane or stop it. There is a tail skid but no tailwheel steering, it’s all done with the rudder.


Advancing the throttle made the noise get louder, but it took several seconds for the Jenny to start moving. On takeoff, the airplane sort’of loped into the air at about 40 mph. There’s no airspeed indicator, so you have to listen to the sound of the wind going through the flying wires. Rate of climb is very low and the airplane is not at all very responsive. At about 1500 feet Budd feels out the controls and finds the ailerons very heavy with lots of control friction, but the elevator is light and very effective. The rudder feels like it is encased in cement!


When it comes to landing, Budd brings the nose down and lowers the throttle again listening to the pitch of the wind in the wires go up a bit as the airspeed increases. Once at flare altitude, bringing the nose up and the throttle down, the Jenny slows down very fast and Budd had a bumpy first arrival with the Jenny. In his words, the original barnstormers really knew their stuff and made the Jenny perform like a real airplane. For Budd, the Jenny was a return to true Seat-of-the-Pants flying.

1917 Curtiss JN-4D Jenny


This open cockpit canvas covered biplane is a WW1 trainer and Budd straps into an original Jenny (80% anyway), and goes for a trip around the patch. With only 90HP and was designed by Glenn Curtis in 1916. It was the very first mass produced aircraft with the controls laid out like we know today.


When Budd gets in, the airplane’s owner propped the engine and Budd manned the magneto and throttle. When the engine came to life, it didn’t sound like an airplane, with its V-8 engine, it sounded more like a tractor. Looking inside the cockpit Budd quickly realized that the Jenny has no brakes to help steer the airplane or stop it. There is a tail skid but no tailwheel steering, it’s all done with the rudder.


Advancing the throttle made the noise get louder, but it took several seconds for the Jenny to start moving. On takeoff, the airplane sort’of loped into the air at about 40 mph. There’s no airspeed indicator, so you have to listen to the sound of the wind going through the flying wires. Rate of climb is very low and the airplane is not at all very responsive. At about 1500 feet Budd feels out the controls and finds the ailerons very heavy with lots of control friction, but the elevator is light and very effective. The rudder feels like it is encased in cement!


When it comes to landing, Budd brings the nose down and lowers the throttle again listening to the pitch of the wind in the wires go up a bit as the airspeed increases. Once at flare altitude, bringing the nose up and the throttle down, the Jenny slows down very fast and Budd had a bumpy first arrival with the Jenny. In his words, the original barnstormers really knew their stuff and made the Jenny perform like a real airplane. For Budd, the Jenny was a return to true Seat-of-the-Pants flying.

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