Chesapeake Bay - 20th Century - The Mariners' Museum
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Shipbuilding on the Chesapeake
Curtiss Flying School
Eugene Ely
Langley Field
German Ships in Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation
Fort Monroe and Coastal Defense
Fort McHenry
Camp Eustis
Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads
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Chesapeake Bay -
Our History and Our Future
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Eugene Ely
Ely makes his first flight from converted Birmingham in Hampton Roads, 1910
Ely makes his first flight from converted Birmingham in Hampton Roads, 1910
On November 14, 1910, Eugene Ely combined the new world of aviation with naval power when he launched his Curtiss biplane off the cruiser Birmingham anchored in Hampton Roads harbor. An eighty-three foot long wooden ramp had been built on the forecastle of the cruiser to accommodate Ely's attempt.

The original plan was for the Birmingham to make its way into the Chesapeake Bay, and for Ely to fly to the Norfolk Navy Yard, landing at the Marine parade ground. But bad weather forced the cruiser to anchor off Old Point Comfort. In the afternoon, the weather began to clear; Ely tested the engine while the Birmingham prepared to get underway. Seeing that the weather was again threatening, Ely signaled to his mechanic to release the cable securing the plane, and he flew off the Birmingham. After a brief touch in the water, Ely, unable to see landmarks due to rain, flew the biplane to Willoughby Spit, Norfolk, completing a five-minute flight.

Continue to: Langley Field



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