On 14 Nov. 1910, off Old Point Comfort across the harbor from here, the U.S. Navy demonstrated that airplanes could be launched from ships. Flying a Curtiss biplane, Eugene Ely took off from a wooden ramp constructed atop the deck of the cruiser USS Birmingham. Aided by the five-degree slope of the ramp, a close-to-40-foot drop to the water, and an airplane engine that was powerful for the time, Ely gained enough speed to get the craft airborne and keep it aloft for the two-and-a-half-mile flight to Willoughby Spit. Ely's historic flight led to the founding of naval aviation in 1911.
Geographic Location: Norfolk
Physical Description of Location: Hughes Drive, Norfolk, VA 23511. Marker is on property of Norfolk Naval Air Station.
Display on Google Maps
Display on Google Earth