Curtiss Oriole


Curtiss Oriole
Curtiss Oriole at Houston TX 1919.jpg
Curtiss Oriole at Houston, 1919
Role Light aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Curtiss Aircraft
First flight 1919

The Curtiss Oriole (Curtiss Model 17) was an American three-seat general-purpose biplane.


The Oriole fuselage was constructed using laminated wood to form a monocoque body and was powered by either the Curtiss OX-5 V-8 or the Curtiss K-6 engine. The aircraft featured a self-starter and a tall thin radiator in the pilot's field of view.[1][2]

Operational history

Surplus Curtiss Oriole wings were sold to Harold Pitcairn to manufacture the first production Pitcairn aircraft, the Pitcairn PA-3 Orowing.

Northwest Airlines was founded on August 1, 1926, flying a Curtiss Oriole and a Thomas Morse Biplane on the CAM-9 Airmail route from Minneapolis to Chicago.[3]

Admiral Byrd selected a Curtiss Oriole as his backup aircraft for his Fokker on his North Pole expedition. One was shipped on the steamer Chantier in case the Fokker was unavailable.[4]

A leased Curtiss Oriole was deployed by the 109th Observation Squadron in 1921. The aircraft was flown to Washington D.C. to lobby for Minnesota Air Guard funding.[5]

One Curtiss Oriole were sold to Brazilian Naval Aviation in 1926.

Syd (brother of Charlie) Chaplin Air Line used Curtiss Oriole(s) for its one year of operation in 1920.


Igor Sikorsky offered a kit to replace the lower wings with a smaller pair with less drag-producing struts and wires. One example with this modification and a 150 hp Hispano-Suiza upgrade, was entered in the 1927 National Air Races. Before the races, the engine was upgraded again to a Hispano-Suiza 220 hp engine, which overwhelmed the cooling system with metal shavings, causing the aircraft to drop out of the race.[6]

Surviving aircraft

Oriole on display in the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York

Specifications (short-span wings, OX-5 engine)

Data from Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947[10]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: two passengers
  • Length: 25 ft 0 in (7.62 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 1 in (3.07 m)
  • Wing area: 326 sq ft (30.3 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,428 lb (648 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,036 lb (924 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss OX-5 water-cooled V-8 engine, 90 hp (67 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 86 mph (138 km/h, 75 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 69 mph (111 km/h, 60 kn)
  • Range: 582 mi (937 km, 506 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 8,000 ft (2,400 m)
  • Rate of climb: 400 ft/min (2.0 m/s)


  1. ^ "Chaplin Airlines". Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  2. ^ Aerial Age: 11. 15 March 1920. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Northwest Curtiss Oriole". Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  4. ^ "BYRD WILL CARRY A CURTISS ORIOLE; Three-Passenger Plane to Be Taken on Polar Trip in Case Big Fokker Fails. LOADING TO START TODAY Chantier Goes to Navy Yard to Take On Final Cargo in Readiness for Monday's Sailing". The New York Times. April 2, 1926.
  5. ^ "The Minnesota Air National Guard". Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  6. ^ Experimenter. April 1957. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Aircraft". Glenn H. Curtiss Museum. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  8. ^ "CURTISS ORIOLE". Minnesota Air National Guard Museum. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  9. ^ "1919 Curtiss Oriole 'Kristine'". Century Aviation. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  10. ^ Bowers 1979, p. 176.


  • Bowers, Peter M (1979). Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Hagedorn, Dan (March–May 1992). "Curtiss Types in Latin America". Air Enthusiast. No. 45. pp. 61–77. ISSN 0143-5450.

External links

  • Media related to Curtiss Oriole at Wikimedia Commons