Here’s the thing about planes. Generally, they do better when they stay up in the sky. But if they’re going to fall down, it’s also a good sign if they can do so while managing to keep everyone inside in considerably good condition. Such is the life of one Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, a biplane created from the mind of legendary aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss. His company the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company would go on to merge into the Curtiss-Wright Corporation and had a hand in many different innovations seen throughout World War I and World War II in aviation.
Related: Military Plane Crashes in 2022 Causing Concerns Among Branches
The Curtiss JN-4 Jenny Influenced Military Aviation Worldwide
If you aren’t aware, the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane is one of the biggest influences on military aviation in the history of the United States. Ultimately, the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny would become one of the most influential aircraft in the history of the world.
Pilots that were training to be a part of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) would do so in the Curtiss JN 4 Jenny. Before the company knew it, its popularity would create opportunities for America’s allies to also order the planes for their own budding air force units.
Fast forward to more than a century later, and while the Curtiss JN 4D may not be the most popular model available, the principle of keeping planes in the air rather than freefalling to the ground below unsurprisingly remains the same.
Today, there are fewer models of this aircraft around, but their legacy remains important. And thankfully, some aircraft enthusiasts are committed to ensuring it isn’t forgotten. Particularly, there’s one plane from 1917 that carries the torch of history but seems to have a bit of an issue staying in the air.
Crash Tested and Approved
A group known as Friends of Jenny spends its time providing helpful education along with the preservation of the Curtiss JN 4 Jenny. The non-profit organization also maintains the history of other aircraft, including a reconstructed 1918 Dayton-Wright DH-4 Liberty Plane.
Suggested Read: The Legendary Chicken Gun Is the Ultimate Quality Control Test for Military Planes
Of the handful left, the Curtiss JN 4D Jenny built by Friends of Jenny would end up crashing on a golf course in Bowling Green, Kentucky, back in 2017. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the only incident.
Owner Dorial Walker was able to avoid accountability for the golf course crash, but in 2020 the aircraft he was piloting crashed again. Miraculously, Walker walked away from his second biplane incident basically unharmed.
Crazier still is that many other reports of a WWI biplane crash in Kentucky have been reported over the years. In fact, this would now include the same exact plane belonging to Walker in which he and another pilot would end up crashing yet again in 2023.
When it’s all said and done, there are a few ways to look at things. Yes, the plane has a habit of crashing, but it also has a track record of keeping those inside safe. Considering the aircraft is over a century old and still manages to make it into the air, with some success, it may be fair to just let enthusiasts have this one.
But alas, the days of this particular Jenny soaring the skies may be coming to an end. There is an effort to get the biplane restored following the crash and into a museum, but getting it to fly as it once did may be too much. Elaine Walker, the wife of Dorial, has even admitted that the prospect of fixing the aircraft and restoring it back to flying condition seems unlikely.
Experience the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny in Person
It’s true that the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny was the plane that taught America to fly, and its legacy involves the beginning of the creation of the world’s strongest aerial force. You can learn more about this plane’s unique place in U.S. Air Force history by visiting the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington, which is a historical site designated by the National Parks Service.
Read Next: The F-22 Raptor Cost Is Putting the Plane’s Production in Jeopardy