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Soaring & Aviation

Aviation Museums & History

The Finger Lakes like to fly high with its many aviation museums and experiences within the region. This region has had a significant effect on both powered and unpowered flight.

Glenn H. Curtiss was a pioneer in aviation; he held the first officially witnessed flight in North America and held pilot’s license #1 in the U.S. Curtiss got his start as a bicycle and motorcycle racer and manufacturer, however. His time on two wheels and in the air is celebrated at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport.

Harris Hill has long been an important location for motorless flight. Gliding came to Elmira in the 1930s when Harris Hill began hosting a national soaring competition. Harris Hill grew as an important spot for gliding, becoming the first site chosen to develop a glider program during WWII. Learn about this history of gliding and watch as the gliders of today take to the skies at the National Soaring Museum. To this day, Harris Hill and the Elmira area are known as the Soaring Capital of America.

When the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center came to Horseheads, it solidified the Finger Lakes as a hot-spot for aviation and its history. The Wings of Eagles Discover Center is home to a variety of aviation exhibits, including decommissioned planes, flight simulators and other special exhibits.

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