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Curtiss Model 17 Oriole

The Curtiss Oriole (Curtiss Model 17) was an American three-seat general-purpose biplane.

The Oriole fuselage was constructed using laminated wood to form a monocoque body and was powered by either the Curtiss OX-5 V-8 or the Curtiss K-6 engine.

The aircraft featured a self-starter and a tall thin radiator in the pilot’s field of view.

Admiral Byrd selected a Curtiss Oriole as second aircraft for his 1926 Arctic Expedition to the North Pole with a Fokker F.VII.

The Oriole was planned to be used for photography and rescue work.

The New York times reported (falsely) that the Oriole was shipped on the steamer Chantier in case the Fokker was unavailable.

However, the Oriole never was planned as a backup to the Fokker.

It did not have the range to fly nonstop from Spitzbergen to the North Pole and back.

A leased Curtiss Oriole was deployed by the 109th Observation Squadron in 1921.

The aircraft was flown to Washington D.C. to lobby for Minnesota Air Guard funding.

One Curtiss Oriole were sold to Brazilian Naval Aviation in 1926.


Igor Sikorsky offered a kit to replace the lower wings with a smaller pair with less drag-producing struts and wires.

One example with this modification and a 150 hp Hispano-Suiza upgrade, was entered in the 1927 National Air Races.

Before the races, the engine was upgraded again to a Hispano-Suiza 220 hp engine, which overwhelmed the cooling system with metal shavings, causing the aircraft to drop out of the race.

The Ireland Comet was a rebuilt Curtiss Oriole with new flying surfaces, including a single-bay high-lift wing.





Two passengers


25 ft 0 in (7.62 m)


36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)


10 ft 1 in (3.07 m)

Wing area

326 sq ft (30.3 m2)

Empty weight

1,428 lb (648 kg)

Gross weight

2,036 lb (924 kg)


1 × Curtiss OX-5 water-cooled V-8 engine,

90 hp (67 kW)


Maximum speed

86 mph (138 km/h, 75 kn)

Cruise speed

69 mph (111 km/h, 60 kn)


582 mi (937 km, 506 nmi)

Service ceiling

8,000 ft (2,400 m)

Rate of climb

400 ft/min (2.0 m/s).

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