The V-8 that propelled his machine was designed for dirigibles. It would later power airplanes, too, but on Ormond Beach, Florida, in January, shoehorned into a simple suspensionless frame, it launched Curtiss to a gobsmacking 136 mph. As one of his generation’s leading innovators, he was often photographed. He inevitably appears unsmiling, hair waxed into place. His eyes are often pinched with contempt, looking into the camera as if he has no time to wait for one of the era’s lesser miracles to do its work. But photographed in action at the controls of his creations, his racers, and his airplanes, Glenn Curtiss looks consumed—wholly occupied by the machines he cared for so passionately. We understand the feeling.