Col. C. J. Tippett owned a Curtiss JN4

The Curtiss Jenny was Tip’s first plane. He learned to fly in 1929, when he was sixteen years old.

Like Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, Cloyce Joseph Tippett learned to fly in a barnstormer that landed in his hometown. Unlike them, he lived his life of record-setting aviation accomplishment away from public attention. Until now.

Tip wrote a memoir of his aviation life and passed it to me to turn into a book, which is getting close to being ready to read. It’s currently a completed draft that I’ve sent off to an agent with great hopes of traditional publication… but if not – self publishing remains a viable option!

The barnstormer, named George, who landed in Tip’s town, was flying a Curtiss Jenny and offered Tip the chance to buy it… for $700.

That’s wasn’t a great deal for Tip, but he didn’t pay attention to that. He was focused on how he could get the Jenny, given that  – as a sixteen year old, he didn’t have $700.

It was also 1929, and within a month, the Great Depression would begin, and within a couple of years, the Curtiss JN4 would be considered unsuitable for general flight due to safety considerations. But it was a plane and Tip had the flying fever. He did get the Jenny and he did learn to fly.

And went on to join aviation history… and live a life of celebrity and adventure… all starting with his Curtiss Jenny, JN4.

The Jenny was a World War I training plane. It had two cockpits, one behind the other, so that the student could fly while the teacher was present and watching. But there would still come a day when the teacher stepped out and the student flew solo. Tip remembered his first solo for the rest of his life.

There were so many surplus JN4 aircraft after the war, that it became the most common aircraft in US skies. If an airmail letter was delivered in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was probably flown in on a Jenny.

In the course of his aviation career, Tip flew over 98 different aircraft – a stunning number of ships, even by today’s piloting standards.

The book, as well as magazine articles about his story, are coming out soon… and I’ve got a mailing list building for people who want to be notified when the stories come out. I never, ever, use that mailing list for any emails other than my own, and you can sign up here.


« »