September 18: The HA seaplane or "Dunkirk Fighter," made its first flight at Port Washington, Long Island, with Curtiss pilot Roland Rohlfs at the controls and Captain B. L. Smith occupying the second seat.
Roland Rohlfs, J. P. Davies and Other Aviators Thrill Crowd With Stunts
Oriole is Product of Buffalo Plant
That flock of expert birdmen that Glenn H. Curtiss brought up from Garden City with him this week, were again on the job at the Curtiss flying field on the Niagara Falls boulevard today, sometimes taxiing about the field, joyriding in the air, or standing about in groups discussing the merits of what they call "the ships" and the motors and oils.
From early in the morning, a fair sized gallery watched along the roads, for the new Oriole machines which were being flown are brilliant affairs, that attract attention from afar. The gallery was made up mostly of motoring tourists, some of them from distant parts of the country.
Among the flyers at the field were Roland Rohlfs, holder of the American altitude record; J. D. Hill, a veteran birdman, whose air trips number thousands, and who has traveled more miles on the wing than most folks do in their lives; Bert Acosta, who used to fly in Buffalo when the Curtiss field was first opened; Walter Lees, Victor Vernon, O. S. Parmer and George Warsham.
Rohlfs, besides holding the altitude record, has made some other remarkable flights recently at Garden City. He is a Buffalonian and got his first flying experience at the Curtiss field in the days when Victor Carlson Phil Rader and "Cap" Campbell were the chief pilots.
After a long illness, Roland Rohlfs passed away March 22, 1974
He was born February 10, 1892 in Buffalo, N.Y. His education was at the Buffalo Technical High School and the Nichols Private School. In 1914, he began his aviation career as a mechanic with the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, first at Hammondsport and then Buffalo. Later he became test pilot for Curtiss after learning to fly at their Newport News school with Victor Carlstrom as his instructor.
After World War I, he flew for various companies using airplanes and autogiros for advertising purposes.
From 1938 to 1953, he held various posts with the Civil Aeronautics Administration, such as Chief of Technical Section, Air Safety Board, Civilian Pilot Training, War Training Service and other duties.
An interesting story of this Early Bird was published in the JOURNAL of the American Aviation Historical Society, Vol. 17, Number 4, Winter 1972 covering the years he was test pilot for Curtiss.