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