1911 Pelican Hydro-Aeroplane


Hugh Willoughby (1856-1939) was intellectually curious and keenly interested in new machines that helped humans travel at high speeds. In fact, by 1908, he held 14 patents for airships and aviation devices, including a “kill” switch to stop the engine that was adopted universally in airplane design. Willoughby developed many of his innovations while living at his winter home in Sewall’s Point, here in Martin County. In 1908 he wrote Orville Wright about his Pelican hydro-aeroplane. He assisted Orville Wright on some of his early flights and designed dirigibles and speedboats and even helped the US Navy develop submarines. Ken Kellett, an aviation expert, master airplane-restorer, and replica-builder crafted this exacting, full-size replica of the Pelican. He used information from records, photographs, and his own experience, which includes building the first working replica of the Wright Flyer.



  • Length: 34 feet
  • Wingspan: 30 feet
  • Weight: 678 pounds, includind brass-sheathed floats
  • Engine: Inline 4-cyclinder Curtiss Model K
  • Horsepower: 40