CENTENNIAL of NAVAL AVIATION - Naval Air Station North Island / CA
Update: 2020/05/04 by Shawn Clish / CHK6
United States Naval Aviation can trace it’s roots back to two important events that took place over a few months in 1910 and 1911. First, on November 14, 1910, Eugene Ely, a civilian pilot belonging to the Curtiss Company completed the first takeoff of an airplane from a ship by taxiing off a platform built on the bow of the Chester-class scout cruiser USS BIRMINGHAM (CL-2) which was anchored at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Then on January 18, 1911, on the other side of the country in San Francisco Bay, California, Mr. Ely landed his Curtiss pusher on an extension which had been built on an armoured cruiser, the USS PENNSYLVANIA (ACR-4). Wearing a helmet and some bicycle inner tubes for protection, Mr. Ely had approached at approximately 40 mph and used the steel hooks attached to the bottom of his airplane to catch one of the cables strung across the deck of the ship, performing what would later become commonly known in carrier aviation as a ‘trap’. As a result of these successful demonstrations, US Naval Aviation was officially born on May 8, 1911, when the Navy purchased it’s first airplane, a Curtiss A-1 TRIAD.