When the United States entered World War I in 1917, naval aviation was in its infancy with only 43 qualified pilots (five of them Marines) supported by 239 enlisted men. The Navy owned only 54 planes, most of which were not fit for wartime service. But when the war ended 19 months later in November 1918, nearly 7,000 naval officers wore the gold wings and green uniforms associated with naval aviation. The number of enlisted men in aviation units had grown to more than 30,000, and there were now over 2,000 planes.
Lest We Forget: Navy vs. Habsburgs
By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)