The Foster-Ingram biplane with the information board underneath
I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico on the 10th of July. Primarily my job was to visit the Eclipse 500 VLJ (Very Light Jet) design and manufacturing center located there. I did write about the VLJ earlier. Just a quick note again, a VLJ is like a really small personal jet that some companies are also thinking of using as an air taxi service. The entire concept is new and it remains to be seen whether it makes business sense to operate a VLJ as anything other than a personal toy. The Eclipse 500 has some worthy competition in the form of the Cessna Mustang, and Embraer Phenom.
I was on my way out of Albuquerque and was at the ABQ Airport (Sunport as it is called fondly) and proceeding towards security and the gates; I came across a large hall. Hanging from the ceiling is an old biplane. The aviation department of ABQ has set up an information board underneath the hanging biplane. I was early and had plenty of time to hang around and read the stuff, take notes and gaze at the display. Unluckily, I had left the camera in my checked in bag and there’s no way of retrieving it. Luckily I had a camera phone. Saved the day although that’s probably not the best tool for better photography.
The hanging airplane is a real one, constructed in the year 1914, from original materials. The model is a 1914 Ingram-Foster Biplane based on a popular Curtiss Biplane. It is mounted with a Roberts engine rated at 100 HP. The airplane is constructed out of wood, fabric, metal and bamboo.
Jay Ingram, a Ford car dealer those days based at Decatur, Texas, met Charles A. Foster who had been flying a Curtiss Pusher Bi-plane and using the same design, made their own airplane and called it the Ingram-Foster Biplane. The present one was also manufactured by them and kept in a box until it was sold from a private owner to the ABQ Museum and Department of Aviation in 1987. The ABQ Department painstakingly put the Airplane together and has now displayed it.
Glen Curtiss, the original designer of the Curtiss Airplane was the main rival for the Wright Brothers between 1909 and 1911 and his models were copied by many others. Curtiss Airplanes made a lot of historical records in Aviation.
1908 – Glen Curtiss won $2,500 from Scientific American to fly an “officially witnessed” flight of 1 kilometer (0.62 Miles).
1911 – Eugene Ely with a Curtiss Pusher was the first to take off from the deck of a ship. In the same year, with a similar type of Airplane, Lincoln Beachey was the first to fly an airplane upside down. He also set the altitude record of 11,642 feet.
1913 – Again Lincoln Beachey was the first to loop the airplane.
In the year 1911, a Curtiss pusher, delivered from the factory at Hammondsport, New York, costed $4500-$6,000 depending on the size of the engine. Today’s value would approximate $78,000 for the upper end model. The engines were 4, 6 and 8 cylinder ones. The last one was required to fly the Airplane out of hot and high airfields such as ABQ.
All this information can be found beneath the hanging Ingram-Foster biplane. The one thing I found wanting, is that there were no brochures or printed information leaflets, that one could have carried home. The next time one of you go to ABQ Airport, look it up, take some pictures and be nice, pass them to me, for posting!