Bonhams to Offer Historic Vintage Flying Boat in New York

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Photo courtesy of Bonhams New York

New York – Bonhams announces the sale of a 1917 Curtiss MF Seagull
Flying Boat, to be offered at auction on Tuesday, April 13 in New York.
Sourced from the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio,
the flying boat will be the first vintage plane auctioned in Manhattan,
and it is expected to realize between $300,000-500,000.

A plane designed by one of the leading pioneers of American aviation and
archrival of the Wright brothers, Glenn H. Curtiss, the Seagull is an
eloquent symbol for one of the Curtiss company’s greatest achievements –
the perfection of the seaplane. As part of the celebrations surrounding
the auction, the aircraft will be on public view in the Sculpture Garden
Atrium at 590 Madison Avenue from Saturday April 3 to Tuesday April 13.

Rupert Banner, Specialist in Charge of the Sale, says, “Bonhams has a
long, proud history offering Motor Cars at auction across the globe, and
has recently led the way in the sale of vintage aircraft. This fantastic
Curtiss Flying Boat provides a fitting opening for the sale of vintage
aircraft in New York, and it joins an illustrious list of aviation
marques that Bonhams has recently offered, including two of the most
recognizable and famous aircraft of the 20th century, the Hawker
Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire.”

Glenn H. Curtiss was a true aviation pioneer, and was an archrival of
the Wright Brothers. They may have flown first, but Curtiss flew the
first-ever public flight, and went on to win awards and aviation
distinctions across America and Europe during the first years of manned
flight. He went on to become fascinated with flying boats and would
later be known as the father of naval aviation.

The MF was first developed in 1917 from the original F model, a Curtiss
flying boat design the United States Navy had been using since 1912/13.
Standing for ‘Modernised F-boat’ (MF), it proved an excellent trainer
and by 1921 87 MFs were in service with the Navy.

After the cessation of hostilities, not all MFs were needed, so many
were sold off as surplus, and the Curtiss company converted a number to
the MF Seagull configuration, with increased horsepower and additional
seating. Notably, Howard Hughes took his first flight in a Curtiss MF in
1926 and one of the first buyers of the MF Seagull was Sid Chaplin,
Charles’ brother.

This particular Seagull was built in the Philadelphia dockyards, and was
the sixty-first built in a batch of eighty. It almost certainly was
stationed as a Naval trainer in Pensacola or Atlantic City, before being
released as surplus in 1923 or 1924. After that, it seems the plane had
one owner, William H. Long, who based the Seagull in Sandusky Bay, Ohio
and made frequent trips to Cedar Point Amusement Park with joyriders and
sightseers. In 1945 Long refurbished the Seagull and donated the
aircraft to Cleveland’s Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. It
has been on display at the Western Historical Reserve Society, and was
retired from public exhibition in recent times.

Updated: July 18, 2011 — 3:24 PM
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