Eugene Ely Curtiss Pusher biplane USS Birmingham

  • Eugene Ely made the first carrier takeoff on November 14, 1910.
  • After less than five minutes in the air, Ely set the plane down on a nearby beach.
  • He had flown less than 3 miles.

On November 14, 1910, the US military took its first step toward linking flight and naval operations when Eugene Ely made the first carrier takeoff, guiding a Pusher biplane off the deck of the light cruiser USS Birmingham in the waters of Norfolk, Virginia.

The Navy tapped Capt. Washington Irving Chambers — who has been called “the father of naval aviation” — earlier that year “to observe everything that will be of use in the study of aviation and its influence upon the problems of naval warfare,” according to the Smithsonian.

Chambers recognized the utility of shipborne landings and takeoffs. At a flying event in Belmont Park, New York, in October 1914, Chambers asked planemaker Glenn Curtiss and Ely if they would attempt to land on a ship if he supplied one. (Another account has Curtiss and Ely making the offer, and Chambers saying he had no money to finance the experiment but would provide a ship.)

Eugene Ely

On November 14 — a Monday soiled by fog and intermittent rain — a Curtiss Pusher biplane with floats mounted under the wings was loaded aboard the Birmingham. The US Naval Institute identifies the aircraft as a Hudson Fulton Flyer.

The cruiser was equipped with an 83-foot runway on its deck, but that length meant Ely only had Read More Here