Aircraft of World War I

Lt. Whiting Making Catapult Shot

Photograph courtesy of Paul Musterton Collection, Emil Buehler Library NAS Pensacola


Lt. Whiting was among the first aviators to train at NAS Pensacola; his first lessons in flight were given by the Wright Brothers. Lt. Whiting is shown making one of the first catapult launches from a ship, this one being Navy Coal Barge 214. The USS North Carolina, from which the first catapult launch was made, is present in the background. Lt. Whiting went on to command the 1st Aeronautical Detachment in Europe.




Photo courtesy of Paul Masterson Collection, Pictorial History Naval Activities Pensacola, Fl

The Pensacola Naval Air Station was central in the development of catapulting aircrafts. Led by Lt. Bellinger and Lt. Commander Mustin, research and development quickly advanced and improved catapulting planes as well as landing and taking off at sea. Pictured above is a Curtis Model F plane that the Navy later classified as the C-2. Joint research between the Curtiss Company and the Navy enhanced the C-2. A notable development was altering the materials used to decrease the friction that water caused while the pilot attempted taking off. The Curtiss C-2 was so popular that in addition to private US customers, England, German, France, Italy and Japan were soon purchasing theC-2 aircraft.

Photograph courtesy of West Florida Historic Preservation

NAS Pensacola pioneered many field of naval aviation, including catapult launching


Lieutenant John H. Towers sits in the pilot’s seat of this Curtiss C-5.   Lieutenant Towers received aviation training from Lt. Theodore Ellyson. Lt. Ellyson was the first certified naval aviator. After his training, Lt. Towers received the title of Naval Aviator Number 3. Towers later became the commanding officer of naval aviation training in Pensacola and became an advocate for future naval aviation advancements. Behind Lt. Towers is one of the first tent hangars erected on Pensacola’s Naval Air Station. Captain Mustin used this particular photograph in a letter he wrote to the Secretary of the Navy to summarize the conditions of the base upon his arrival in 1914.


Photograph courtesy of Paul Musterton Collection, Emil Buehler Library NAS Pensacola

HIS-L taking off in Pensacola Bay


Photo courtesy of West Florida Historic Preservation

Naval Squadron flying in formation over NAS Pensacola.


Photo courtesy of West Florida Historic Preservation