Tonawanda News

Features

December 10, 2012

Historical society presentation highlights aircraft plant

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there’s enough for an entire book in the handful of photographs of the Curtiss-Wright airplane plant Town of Tonawanda Historian recently received on a tiny flash drive.

Percy said he was giving a presentation on general aviation history in the Buffalo area last spring, when one attendee from North Tonawanda said he had some photographs to share. 

His “grandfather worked for Curtiss-Wright and had a whole lot of pictures of airplanes over the years,” Percy said of the encounter. “Seeing as how I had this information, I developed it into a PowerPoint (presentation) and made it available for public viewing.”

That presentation on the airplane manufacturing plant that once stood on Vulcan Street in the Town of Tonawanda will be held 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society at 100 Knoche Road, Town of Tonawanda. 

We “have very interesting photos of a number of planes, some of which I had never seen before so I think it would be interesting for the public to see the variety of planes they manufactured over the years.”

The plant, which was located where there is now a family support center for the Charter School for Applied Technology, was built at the beginning of World War I and operated until 1946 after World War II was over. 

“It employed a lot of people, and it’s an important part of Western New York’s manufacturing history,” said Village Historian of Kenmore, Ed Adamczyk.

Percy said the Curtiss plant moved to Western New York from Hammondsport because the area “offered a lot more industrial opportunity.” The plant produced the Curtiss JN4, or Curtiss Jenny, a biplane used in military training. 

The company left the area in 1929, only to return, join forces with the rival Wright Brothers operation and produce combat planes throughout the second World War. 

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