Sunday, June 29, 2008

Naval Aviator Number ONE

Theodore Gordon Ellyson, CDR, USN

Submariner and
Naval Aviator Number One

At the age of 14 Ellyson saw a fleet of Navy ships enter the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and was so impressed by the sight that he decided Navy life was for him. Soon after, he boarded a northbound train for Annapolis, hoping to enroll in the Naval Academy. At Annapolis an official asked him why he wanted to become a Navy officer and Ellyson replied without hesitation, "I saw the Fleet come in." "Spuds" loved the Navy so much that he once told his wife, "Even you come second." The only thing he loved as much as the Navy was accomplishing things before anyone else. By 1911, he had successfully merged both passions, becoming the Navy’s first pilot.
  • Ellyson was the first naval officer assigned to aviation duty.
  • He assisted in the search for a shipboard launching device for airplanes and on September 7th, 1911 made a successful take-off from an inclined wire cable device.
  • In 1912 further development led to his successful catapult launching in a seaplane and the Navy’s first flying boat.
-- Taken from the website -

The Library of Congress holds most of the written documentation of CDR Ellyson's life. Included in that documentation is the correspondence he shared with with wife, friends, family and fellow Naval Aviators. In today's world there is very little correspondence shared in that way. E-mail and telephone calls are the primary means of communication. Unfortunately for all of us, those exchanges are not recorded for history and thus that rich history is greatly reduced. The value of the written word, largely forgotten, becomes that much more valuable. Heed Admiral Jim Stavridis' words to "read, think, write, publish."

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