Not Pretty, But Practical
The Curtiss Robin was designed for private owners. Conventional in many ways, the Robin was popular because it had an unusually large, enclosed cabin and a reasonable price. Built to use a World War I-surplus OX-5 engine, later Robins incorporated newer power plants. The dependable Curtiss Robin became one of the most commercially successful airplanes of the day, with 769 produced from 1928 to 1930.
The Museum's Robin, dubbed "The Newsboy," was purchased in 1929 by the Daily Gazette of McCook, Nebraska. Powered by a Curtiss Challenger 185-horsepower engine, it flew 380 miles (600 km) a day to deliver 5,000 newspapers to 40 towns in rural Nebraska. At each town, pilot Steve Tuttle would drop a bundle of newspapers out a hole in the bottom of the fuselage. The Newsboy was damaged in a tornado and sold, ending an unusual story in both journalism and aviation. The aircraft, which is currently equipped with a Wright R-760-8 engine, was loaned to The Museum of Flight in 1972.
The Robin was a practical airplane, but best remembered for unusual flights. In 1929, Dale "Red" Jackson performed over four hundred slow rolls without stopping in his Robin. Later, Jackson and Forrest O'Brine spent nearly 27 days circling over St. Louis. Their record was bettered in 1935 by Fred and Al Key, who flew their Robin for 653 continuous hours -- almost a month in the air! Fuel was delivered from another Robin via hose while mail, food, and spare parts came in a supply bag on the end of a rope. These endurance flights showed not only the reliability of the Robin, but the dependability of aircraft in general during the 1930s.
This aircraft is on loan from Perry A. Schreffler and R.C. Van Ausdell.