01/31/2012. Albert J. Engel (commonly named Al J.) began flying in 1911. After wrecking his first aircraft, a Curtiss Model D in an emergency landing due to engine problems, he bought a 1911 Model E 'Hydroaeroplane' (meaning float-equipped) in early 1912. Constructed from spruce, ash and bamboo, covered with doped fabric, it was originally a single-seater powered by a 50 hp Curtiss engine. By 1913 the aircraft was converted to a two-seater, with extended wing tips and a special-built 85 hp Curtiss eight-cylinder water-cooled V-engine.
Engel used the aircraft for demonstration and passenger flights in the Cleveland area and in Northeastern Ohio. Occasionally the aircraft was shipped to other locations where Engel participated in aviation meetings. The name Bumble Bee was the result of a for-women-only naming contest at Chautauqua Lake, New York, for which the prize was a ten-minute flight.
The aircraft was retired in late 1914, and in 1946 it was sold to the Thompson Products Auto Album (founded by Thompson Products president Frederick C. Crawford in 1943). In a deal between Crawford and the Western Reserve Historical Society, the collection was moved into a new-built housing in 1965, the present museum where the sole genuine Curtiss 'Hydroaeroplane' is on display.