Curtiss JN-4D “JennyThe first airplane to reach Chanute Field was a Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny.” Traveling over sixty mph, Chanute Captain W.W. Spain passed over the base on Tuesday, July 3, 1917 at 11:25am. Residents from Rantoul and nearby Paxton gathered on the streets and watched from railroad tracks as the Jenny flew more than 1,000 feet above them.

The flight in question was a ten-mile trip from Buckley to Paxton, which took eight minutes, and then from Paxton to Chanute, another twelve miles and ten minutes. Fifteen days later on July 18, a dozen Jennies took flight from Chanute with an instructor and trainee in each plane, marking the first formal instruction at the base. The Jenny was new to aviation, released only a month prior to Spain’s flight to Chanute. During World War I, 90% of pilots trained with a Jenny, and following the war, the surplus was sold to civilians [1]. These surplus planes were used for barnstorming air shows and were the first aircrafts used by the U.S. Postal Service.

Engine: 90-hp Curtiss OX-5
Wing Span: 43’ 7”
Length: 27’ 4”
Height: 9’ 10”
Weight: 1,430 lbs.
Gross Weight: 1,920 lbs. (includes fuel, oil, pilot and passenger)
Speed: Top: 75 mph; Min: 45 mph
Climb in 10 minutes: 2,000 ft.
Air-frame: Wood
Covering: Fabric

- Thomas Kuipers
  Archives Intern


[1] Retrieved 2019 – 03/21. Updated 2022 - 09/25.