Exactly 58 years ago the entire aviation element of the U. S. Navy arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to commence its first operations with the Fleet. The assignment included aerial scouting missions and exercises in spotting mines and submarines during an 8-week period that may be considered the genesis of naval air reconnaissance.
Just 14 months later, on 25 April 1914, the Navy’s first combat scouting flight was made at Veracruz, Mexico, by the aviation unit of the USS Mississippi. Three days later, the first combat photographic mission was completed and, on 6 May 1914, while scouting positions near Veracruz, the first Navy aircraft to receive combat damage encountered enemy fire. Naval air reconnaissance had become, in less than two years, an operational reality.
When, in 1962, Navy aircraft moved through the skies of Cuba to obtain critically important photographic proof of Russian missile installations in that country, naval air reconnaissance had been improving its tools and techniques over the period of two world wars and scores of crises requiring the special information that could only be provided by air reconnaissance.