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History November 14, 1910

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Martin Rohmann, Nov 13, 2020.

  1. Martin Rohmann A Fixture

    Country:
    Germany
    The coincidental birth of naval aviation


    On November 14, 1910, an aircraft takes off from the deck of a ship for the first time in history:

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    It's the aviator Eugene Burton Ely ...

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    ... who dares the dangerous take-off in a "Curtiss" aircraft from a makeshift podium made of wooden planks on the forecastle of the cruiser USS "Birmingham" - it is the birth of naval aviation and the later aircraft carriers!

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    The almost unbelievable thing is: Ely...

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    ... had never really learned to fly!

    In the spring of 1910 he was the representative of the rich businessman E. Henry Wemme ...

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    ... hired in Portland, Oregon ...:

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    For reasons of prestige, Wemme had acquired one of these new types of automobiles and a "Curtiss" plane. He could drive but not fly.

    Ely could drive too and thought - no joke! - flying is hardly any different! He offered himself to Wemme as a pilot.

    On his first flight, Ely crashed the "Curtiss" promptly!

    [IMG]

    He bought the wreck from Wemme because he felt responsible for the loss of the plane. Within a few months he had repaired the plane and learned to fly. He initially flew in particular in the Portland area.

    He took part in an air show in Winnipeg, Canada, before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota in June 1910 to work as a pilot in the service of aircraft designer Glenn Curtiss ...:

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    In October 1910, Ely and Curtiss finally met Captain Washington I. Chambers ...

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    ... who was working as a representative of the US Navy at the time. Chambers had the task of sounding out to what extent the new aviation could be used for the interests of the Navy.

    They talked shop about this and that, about ships, of course, and airplanes - and when the meeting was over, they had agreed on two test flights!

    The first was that successful launch of the USS "Birmingham".


    The second agreed test flight was even more complicated!

    Two months later, Eugene Ely managed to land his "Curtiss" on the battleship USS "Pennsylvania", which was anchored in the Bay of San Francisco ...:

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    For this, too, a provisional state railway was built from wooden planks - this time on the stern of the battleship ...:

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    The problem with this:

    You could build over the aft turrets, but not extend the "runway" because the main mast was in the way!

    Another lucky coincidence came to the rescue of the pioneers of naval aviation:

    Captain Cambers had the engineer Hugh Armstrong Robinson ...

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    ... who had developed a method to bring landing aircraft to a stop after a very short distance:

    A catch hook at the rear of the machine that latches onto a rope stretched across the runway and reliably brakes the aircraft.

    Robinson's idea is still in use on all aircraft carriers around the world ...!

    And so the landing on the battleship succeeds ...:

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    The USA now suddenly has a huge technological lead over all other naval forces in the world ...!
  2. Nap A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    Cheers Martin

    Amazing he couldn't fly initially .....that plane looks very unstable and I bet it was stomach turning going off the edge

    Fascinating again

    Nap
    Martin Rohmann likes this.
  3. Airkid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    England
    Coincidentally I read about this a couple of weeks ago. Fascinating stuff. Glenn Curtiss was the father of naval aviation in the US.
    Thanks again Martin

    Phil
    Martin Rohmann likes this.
  4. Chris Oldfield A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    Fascinating story, Martin. Thanks for posting this.
    Martin Rohmann likes this.
  5. grasshopper A Fixture

    Country:
    Canada
    Huge advantage? Not really..took long time for the strategic usage to “take off”..flying boats were the main seaborn weapon of ww1..however, these guys were clearly a bit crazy! Maybe today’s version are free skiers, base jumpers. ..you highlight an intersting period for innovation: early enough times that the backyard experimenter could initiate something that the tradition bound bigger guys discounted..maybe akin to auto racing in 60s when nobody understood aerodynamics and every race was an experiment
    Martin Rohmann and Airkid like this.
  6. Airkid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    England
    Ah, yes. I remember reading Ely had inflated bicycle innertubes wrapped round his shoulders as a makeshift lifejacket, which is shown in the above photo.

    Phil
    Martin Rohmann likes this.

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