An American First – 18 January 1911

On 18 January 1911, an American, Eugene Ely, successfully landed an aeroplane aboard the USS Pennsylvania anchored in San Francisco Bay. On this brisk January morning, at 11 AM Ely took off from Tanforan racetrack.  USS Pennsylvania was anchored off the San Francisco waterfront and a crowd of spectators ashore, on ships, and small flotilla […]

Josephus Daniels and Naval Aviation 1914

  He was the founder and editor of the Raleigh News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, and had little previous experience with the Navy. As a supporter of Woodrow Wilson in 1911, Daniels was appointed the new president’s Secretary of the Navy. As his assistant secretary, Daniels selected an aristocratic young New York politician named Franklin D. […]

Polaris Launches 07 January 1960

As a young boy boating around Charleston Harbor in the 1960’s, I had to be careful to watch for the wakes of departing and returning Polaris missile submarines, called by the Navy… Fleet Ballistic Submarines or FBMs.  The Cold War would change life in Charleston, South Carolina. New facilities for nuclear submarines at the Charleston […]

Puckered Penguins Make History, 20 December 1955

Two P2V Neptune and two R5D Skymaster aircraft of VX-6 , aka the Puckered Penguins, completed the first air transportation link with Antarctica by establishing a route between Christchurch, New Zealand and McMurdo Naval Air Facility, Antarctica on 20 December 1955. This link by naval aviation was vital in Operation Deep Freeze I,  which  would […]

USS Lexington, CV-2, Commissioned 1927

Testifying before the House Naval Affairs Committee on 21 February 1922, Bureau of Naval Aeronautics Chief, Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, told the committee that unless the United States built the “full allowance of carriers assigned to us by the terms of the treaty (Washington Naval Conference Treaty 1922)…our Navy can never be anything but […]

First dive bombing tests 1926

The first dive bombing exercise by the United States Navy was reported on 13 December 1926 by Rear Admiral J. M. Reeves. The Boeing FB-5 and the Curtiss F6C were used as dive bombing platforms. Naval aviators from VF-2 (today’s VFA-2) scored 19 hits with 45 bombs on a target 100 feet by 45 feet. […]

No Christmas For Valley Forge, 06 December 1950

Arriving at San Diego on 01 December 1950 from her first successful Korean combat cruise, the Valley Forge’s crew were dreaming of being home by Christmas. Indeed, most of the armed forces in Korea were dreaming of the war over by Christmas, after MacArthur’s successful amphibious landing at Inchon in mid-September and the roll back […]

End of the Airship Era, 1959?

On 30 November 1959, the Airship Training Group at Naval Air Station (NAS) Glynco, Georgia, was decommissioned, bringing an end to lighter-than-air training in the United States Navy.  Click on this link to learn more about the history of Navy airships… NAS Glynco was constructed in World War II and featured two blimp hangars that […]

First combat air patrol 1917

On 22 November 1917, a Tellier seaplane flown by a naval aviator, Ensign Kenneth R. Smith, was forced down at sea on his flight out of Naval Air Station LeCroisic at the mouth of the Loire River to investigate a report of German submarines south of Belle Isle.  Two days later and minutes before his […]

Antiaircraft Gunfire Director – The Mark 19

With the advent of high-flying and high-speed aircraft, the United States Navy was faced with a new problem, which was ignored until Billy Mitchell’s demonstration of air power in the sinking of the German battleship Ostfriesland in 1921. In 1925 Ford Instrument built an antiaircraft gun director in response to a navy request and delivered […]