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 Beachey-Curtiss Little Looper
After a brief retirement in 1913, Beachey returned to the air to master the inside loop, a maneuver first mastered by a French aviator. Spurred on by national pride and the spirit of competition, Beachey directed Curtiss to design and build a reinforced airplane able to sustain the forces of a loop. Beachey completed his first loop in November 1913.
Beachey at the controls
Despite this, Beachey was not satisfied. His airplane was structurally reinforced to stand up to the forces of aerobatics, but its engine would stop running when inverted. In early 1914 technology advanced and Beachey travelled to France to acquire a pair of Gnome rotary engines. This innovative design was composed of seven cylinders arranged in a circle around the propeller shaft. When running, both the 80-hp engine and the propeller whirled around. The Gnome operated equally well upside down as right side up. Beachey directed his crew to install a Gnome engine in his newest airplane, giving rise to his “Little Looper”. On tour throughout the United States, Beachey conducted many flights over the rest of the year, expanding his repertoire and exposing millions of people to aviation.
Beachey’s reputation had swelled across North America as a result of his demonstration flight. Tens of millions of Americans saw Beachey fly the Little Looper through its aerobatic routine, captivating communities with the wonder and promise of aviation from coast to coast. As a “headless” Curtiss-type pusher with no forward-facing horizontal stabilizer, the Little Looper afforded Beachey an exceptional perch exposed at the front of the airplane, with unparalleled visibility and a strong feel for the airstream in any maneuver.
The Hiller Aviation Museum displays the original Little Looper.
Engine: LeRhône, 84-hp
Span: 25 ft 1 in
Length: 18 ft 4 in
Height: 8 ft 0 in
Weight, empty: 750 lbs
Weight, gross: 890 lbs
Max speed: 84 mph
Endurance: 45 minutes

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