‘We were the first that ever burst into that silent sea.’
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)
The future of Navy aviation—with its big-deck carriers becoming the most tangible symbol of American power and resolve—literally began with a few shoe-string events prompted by vision and courage. One of those seminal steps occurred in Annapolis, Maryland, on 31 July 1912 when this compressed air catapult was used in an unsuccessful attempt to launch the Curtiss A-1—the Navy’s first aircraft—piloted by Lieutenant T. G. Ellyson. Nearly four months later, the lieutenant made the first successful catapult shot on 12 November 1912, with the A-3 at the Washington Navy Yard.
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