Back when they were called aeroplanes and flying was mostly for the birds, inventors in New York State were racing to make vehicles that would transport a person safely through the air from one point to another. Using every ounce of creative juice they had, the early flyers tried pedaling into the wind, soaring over cliffs and eventually attaching a motor to wings and taking off!  Combining a naturally creative mind, a mechanical aptitude and “a need for speed” Glenn H. Curtiss built on the work of the Wright brothers and developed the earliest motor for an airship in 1904. Throughout his lifetime he continued to make advances in motorized flight, working with Alexander Graham Bell and the U.S. military through World Wars I and II. The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport is dedicated to Curtiss's life and work.


Within fifty miles of the Curtiss Museum you can also visit the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, the Harris Hill Soaring Corporation, the National Soaring Museum, and the Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, where the reconstruction of an original 1918 Thomas-Moore Scout has been ongoing for almost ten years and will be unveiled on its centennial anniversary, September 29, 2018.  The Ithaca built “Tommy” served as an advanced trainer to prepare American pilots to fly combat planes in France. Join the “Tommy Comes Home” team for its last flight. 


If you head to the western edge of the Finger Lakes region, you will get to climb inside World War II and Korean era warbirds at the National Warplane Museum, Geneseo. (Voted one of the best warplane museums in the country by USA Today in 2017.) Then visit the Niagara Aerospace Museum primarily dedicated to the designs of the Bell Aircraft and Curtiss-Wright Corporations located nearby. 


The southeastern-most sites on the Trail run the gamut from the earliest to the most current designs in aviation.  Although close to each other geographically, you will need more than one day to take advantage of all there is to see at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, the American Airpower Museum and the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.


The Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville hosts a Young Aviator Summer Camp in August to introduce the next generation to New York’s place in aviation history.  It is also home to the state’s largest aviation library.


Flying from one place to another is as commonplace as walking, but that was not always the case.  It was just a little more than 100 years ago that man conquered the skies and the world became a bigger place. Travelers can be across the country in a couple of hours and around the world in less than a day.  New York State is proud to be home to the men and women who made the earliest forays into the freedom of flight.


For more information about the Historical Aviation Trail contact:


Livingston County Chamber & Tourism

4635 Millennium Drive

Geneseo, NY 14454




Historical Aviation Trail