Every time the pilot of a 16-ton F/A-18 Super Hornet plants the jet on the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, an unbreakable thread of history stretches from that landing back over more than a century to the first shipboard landing.
The year was 1911. The Wright brothers’ celebrated accomplishment at Kitty Hawk was barely seven years earlier. Some observers in the U.S. Navy sensed the airplane would have a military application, but for the moment that application was largely unformed.
Airplanes and automobiles defined the new century, and those who were drawn to the mechanical marvels of either machine often crossed over and embraced the other. Eugene Ely first became a road race driver, chauffeur, and automobile salesman. When a Portland, Oregon, automobile dealer began selling Curtiss Pusher biplanes, the transition for Eugene Ely came quickly. [Read more…]