Airline Expansion and Innovation(1927 - 1941)

"Jenny" Is a Nickname

The airplane's official name is the Curtiss JN-4. If you say the letters "JN" out loud, they sound like "Jay-En." That was shortened to "Jen," and it eventually was changed to "Jenny."

Did You Know?

The words "Air Mail" were not added to air mail stamps until 1926-15 years after the first airplane carried the mail


Jenny Stamp 6 Cent Inverted

Post Office printers made a mistake when they first printed this stamp. Today very few of these rare "upside-down Jenny" stamps still exist. These famous stamps are worth a lot of money

The Curtiss JN-4D Jenny

"I always considered it a very safe airplane, because the carburetor would vibrate the airplane so badly that it would shake the ice off the wings."
-Pilot Earnest M. Allison on the Jenny


Curtiss JN-4D Jenny
Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Curtiss JN-4D Jenny

Designed as a trainer for the U.S. Army Air Service, the Curtiss JN-4 first flew in 1916. Known popularly as the "Jenny," the JN-4 taught thousands of Allied pilots to fly during World War I. After the war, surplus Jennys were widely used for "barnstorming"-traveling air shows-and they opened the first scheduled air mail service.

The JN-4D featured a 90-horsepower Curtiss OX-5 engine. The Army ordered Curtiss to convert six JN-4Ds for the U.S. Air Mail Service by installing a larger 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine and a mail compartment. These airplanes were redesignated as JN-4Hs.

The Smithsonian acquired this Jenny in 1918.

Transferred from the U.S. War Department

Wingspan:            13.3 m (43 ft 7 in)
Length:                   8.3 m (27 ft 4 in)
Height:                    3 m (9 ft 11 in)
Weight, empty:      630 kg (1,390 lb)
Weight, gross:      871 kg (1,920 lb)
Engine:                   Curtiss OX-5, 90 hp

Jenny Stamps
National Postal Museum

Special Stamps for Air Mail

The Post Office created a series of air mail stamps when it began flying the mail. The ones below were first used in 1918. What kind of airplane do they show?

Jenny in Exhibition Flight
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Curtiss Jennys were widely used in exhibition flight. Here Clyde Pangborn, who would later co-pilot the Museum's Boeing 247-D during the 1934 MacRobertson Race, attempts to climb from an automobile onto the landing gear of a Jenny.