3/05/2015

The McLaughlin Gold Bug Hotel, Aeronautical Headquarters.

Some of the photos in Ivan's scrapbook catch my eye right away and others get passed over many times before they wake up some interest in me.  Today, I was really looking for another photo I had planned to scan and publish here.  I guess I was curious to see what the name of the place (a hotel) was on the sign in the photo.  The detail and focus of the photo is very good, so I grabbed my loupe and took a closer look.

McLaughlin Gold Bug Hotel | Aeronautical Headquarters, the sign read.  Well, that sent me to my friend Google, where I found some fascinating references.  Glen Curtis had a hangar, well really a tent across the street from his father-in-law's (Peter McLaughlin) hotel in Mineola, NY.  A lot of seminal flying accomplishments took place across the street from the hotel; and what better to do after a day of flying than to go across the street and drink some beer and talk about flying!? So Curtis and fellow flyers made it their own, and McLaughlin capitalized on the meeting by naming the hotel after the Gold Bug.  (you astute aviation buffs saw that right away, didn't you?)




The Gold Bug was Glen Curtis' early headed pusher.  Headed, meaning it had a horizontal stabilizer in front of the pilot, and pusher meaning the propeller pushed the plane, rather than pulling it. Interestingly, the sign shows a headless pusher at the top.

Library of Congress photo


Looking at the above photo you can see the steering wheel which controlled the rudder.  How were the ailerons actuated?  Below, (from this site) you can see a pair of bars on either side of Curtiss' shoulders.  This setup has been seen before in the blog and was known as Curtiss controls, with the steering wheel used for rudder and elevator, and the shoulder harness used for ailerons by leaning into and out of the turn. If you're a pilot you can imagine why this never caught on. An airplane gets pushed around a lot while in flight and your body swings like a reverse pendulum up from your hips.  You would need to keep leaning back into the controls for one thing, and try and keep your body from rocking side to side to avoid involuntarily rolling the aircraft, too. Completing the controls was a foot operated throttle on the right side.



After I had finished studying the wonderful photo of the Gold Bug I realized that the hotel is seen in the photograph, just to the left of the telephone pole! A little bonus like that when doing my research really makes doing this fun.

I remember seeing a documentary by a fellow who built one of these for the anniversary of it's first flight a while ago, and found that Kermit Weeks had purchased it from him. Notice that this reproduction does not have Curtiss controls, and the throttle is between the two seats since the rudder has been put in its modern place.



I'm still trying to get to the crash photos.  Shooting for the next post.

kpw