Vintage WW I airplane makes emergency landing, pilots walk away

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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The Kentucky National Guard announced on Tuesday that a vintage World War I airplane made an emergency landing at the Guard’s Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville Monday afternoon.

The controlled crash was conducted after the plane’s engine lost power at 1,500 feet.  According to the Kentucky National Guard, both pilots walked away from the downed plane.  No injuries were reported, however, one pilot checked into an area hospital for evaluation.

The plane, believed to be a JN 4 “Jenny,” had recently been on display at an airshow in Indiana, and was en route to Bowling Green after it had refueled at the Anton Airport in Hopkins County when its engine suddenly lost power. The historical plane suffered heavy damage while it was landing in an open field at the training site.

Firefighters from the training center were the first to respond to the scene.

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According to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, The Curtiss Jenny is almost synonymous with American aviation in the 1920s. The Jenny appeared when Glenn Curtiss hired an experienced European designer to lead the new project named B. Douglas Thomas, who had worked for Avro and Sopwith in England.

The Jenny served as a trainer for the U.S. Air Service during World War I, with 95% of North American pilots using it for their training and is considered by many to be the most famous U.S. airplane of the World War One era.

But its more significant role in aviation history was as a barnstorming and mail-carrying airplane in the 1920s. Large numbers of relatively inexpensive war surplus Jennys were available in the United States after 1918.  Its affordability, ease of operation, and versatility made the Jenny the signature airplane of the barnstorming era.

The plane is one of only six such planes remaining in the world and the only one that is certified for coast-to-coast flights.