The Museum of North Texas History

And Wichita County Archives

720 Indiana - Wichita Falls, Texas

JN4-D “JENNY”

 

The Curtiss “Jenny,” a beautiful name for a remarkable plane.  It is perhaps the most famous and important airplane in American aviation history, rightfully being credited with “putting the United States into the air.”  This product of Glenn Curtiss’ genius was the first aircraft mass-produced in this country and gave a generation of Americans their initial exposure to aviation.

 

Call Field was one of only 5 airbases in the state of Texas during World War I.  The airbase was located on either side of present day Call Field Road in southwest Wichita Falls.  Its dirt runways were located in what is now the University Park Subdivision.  Call Field was closed and dismantled in the early 1920s.  It laid the groundwork, however, for establishing Wichita Falls as America’s premier city for training of its military pilots and support personnel.

 

Our “Jenny,” (the #46 training plane when she was at Call Field in Wichita Falls) was one of 2,400 manufactured during the years 1916 – 1918.  It was purchased by the Army Air Corps from the Curtiss Aircraft Company and flown as a primary trainer during World War I.  Following the end of the war, this aircraft was purchased by a World War I pilot, Ray McWhorter.  He flew it as a “barnstormer” for the next 3 years at state fairs and air shows mostly in northern Iowa.  In 1920, it was involved in an accident that severely injured Mr. McWhorter.  The damaged plane was then stored in a barn in Burt, Iowa for the next 50 years.  Its existence was discovered in 1970 by Mr. Dean Gillmore of Spencer, Iowa who began the difficult process of restoration.  The process was completed in 1987 by Mr. Chester Peek of Oklahoma City following the untimely death of Mr. Gillmore. 

 

The City of Wichita Falls purchased this rare (only one of approximately 5 still in flying condition) “Jenny” to be used as the centerpiece of its “Tribute to Call Field” at Kickapoo Airport.  Hundreds of “Jenny’s” from Call Field filled the skies of Wichita Falls during the years 1917- 1918.  Today, 90 years later, the skies over Wichita Falls are still filled with airplanes training young pilots to fly…. but this time with today’s remarkable jet aircraft. 

 

Our “Jenny” has come home to Wichita Falls to be displayed at the Call Field Memorial Exhibit at Kickapoo Airport. The plane is certified by the FAA as airworthy, with the call number “2525 Sierra” reminiscent of her original FAA call number of “2525”, and may be flown for demonstration flights on special occasions.

 

 

 

The Call Field Memorial Exhibit is open on Saturdays

from 10 am until 2 pm.