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Flight Plans Newsletter

Soaring at Sea: 100 Years of Naval Aviation

Sailors assigned to the Dambusters of VFA 195 stand in formation on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington as F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters perform a fly-over during a change of command ceremony. (U.S. Navy)

Eugene B. Ely lands his Curtiss pusher biplane on the USS Pennsylvania  becoming the first pilot to land on a warship on January 18th, 1911. (U.S. Naval Historical Center)

A landing signalman signals the pilot of an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter from the Chargers of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 14 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. (U.S. Navy)

A WWII F6F Hellcat flies alongside an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Rough Raiders of Strike Fighter Squadron 125 during a Battle of Midway Commemoration ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum. (U.S. Navy)

Soaring at Sea: 100 Years of Naval Aviation

In May 1911, an official of the Department of the U.S. Navy initiated paperwork to acquire the branch’s first aircraft -   from pioneer aircraft designer and builder Glenn Curtiss. Initially, Navy leaders were unsure how to employ this revolutionary weapon, but they soon learned harsh lessons during World War I.  In the years that followed, Navy officers recognized the value of the airplane as they transitioned from a doctrine based on battleships to one that emphasized aircraft carriers.  Naval aviators today fly one of the most capable aircraft in the world - the Boeing F/A-18.  In the past, however, they would at times find themselves confronting enemy aircraft equal to or superior to their own.  Despite occasional shortcomings, pilots and crewmembers persevered because of superior training.

To recognize the 100th anniversary of U.S. Naval Aviation, the Museum of Flight will featured and exhibit examining the events, people and machines that shaped this legacy.  The exhibit included artifacts, photographs and video presentations with an emphasis on the long relationship between Naval Aviation and the Pacific Northwest.

For more information about U.S. Naval Aviation’s 100th birthday, visit