The history of naval aviation goes back to the
turn of the century when an Army-Navy board
studied designs for the Langley flying machine.
Afterward, members of the board agreed that
aircraft could be developed for use in warfare.
The first naval officer selected for flight
training was Lieutenant T.G. Ellyson. In
December 1910 Ellyson received orders to undergo
instruction with Glenn Curtiss, producer of the
first practical hydroplane. Curtiss also trained the
pilot who made the first shipboard takeoff from
USS Birmingham in 1910Eugene Ely. Ely later
made the first successful aircraft landing on the
deck of a ship, the armored cruiser Pennsylvania.
In July 1911 the Navy received its first
airplanesa Wright landplane for training and
a Curtiss hydroplane. The next year Lieutenant
Ellyson proved the feasibility of the newly
devised compressed-air catapult by flying a plane
shot from a barge.
From that time until the present, the Navy has
tried four distinct approaches to integrating
aeronautics with the fleet. It has used carriers,
flying boats, lighter-than-air craft, and pontoon
aircraft that operated from noncarrier ships.
Using these approaches has taken naval aviation
through two eras. During the first era propeller-
driven combat aircraft flew from small, straight-
deck carriers while pontoon planes operated from
large men-o-war. Great flying boats flew antisub-
marine warfare (ASW) patrols and were serviced
by seaplane tenders, and huge rigid and nonrigid
lighter-than-air craft roamed the skies. The second
era exists today. This era of modern naval
aviation consists of jet-powered aircraft; giant
carriers; helicopters; and large, long-range patrol
planes. During both of these eras, naval aviation
has enjoyed success.
Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor on
7 December 1941, American carriers dispelled any
doubts about the effectiveness of shipboard
aviation. Carriers that fortunately were absent
from the scene that fateful morning delivered
forceful retaliatory blows on enemy installations
in the Pacific.
Naval aviation has come a long way since its
beginning in 1910. As naval aircraft have become
increasingly more advanced over the years, they
have been used in many ways. Todays naval
aircraft fall under one of two categories: fixed
wing or rotary wing.
A fixed-wing aircraft maybe divided into three
basic parts: fuselage, wings, and empennage.
The fuselage is the main body of the aircraft,
containing the cockpit and, if there is one, the
cabin. On virtually all naval fighter and attack
aircraft operational today, engines are mounted
within the fuselage, as are some of the fuel tanks.
Wings are the primary lifting devices of an
aircraft, although the fuselage and tail provide
some lift. Several devices located on the trailing
(rear) edge of the wings help control the aircraft.
Flaps give extra lift on takeoff and slow the
aircraft in flight or landing. Ailerons control
the roll, or bank, of the aircraft. Trim tabs
aerodynamically unload the control surfaces to
relieve some of the pilots work.
Auxiliary lifting devices, resembling flaps,
located on the leading (front) edge of the wing
increase the camber (curvature) of the wing for
added lift on takeoff.
Most Navy jet aircraft carry their bomb loads
on pylons (called stations) under the wings and,
in some cases, under the fuselage. Some jets have
missile stations on the sides of the fuselage. Fuel
cells are fitted inside the wings; additional tanks
are fitted on the outside of the wings for extra
range. Larger jets may have their engines slung
beneath the wings in pods. On some low-wing air-
craft, the main landing gear retracts into the wings
while the nose wheel retracts into the fuselage. On
most high-wing aircraft, such as the A-7, all gears
retract into the fuselage.
The empennage consists of the stabilizing fins
mounted on the tail section of the fuselage. The
vertical stabilizer, upon which is generally
mounted the rudder, controls yaw (the direction
of the nose about the vertical axis). The horizon-
tal stabilizer, on the trailing edge of which are the
elevators, determines the pitch (climb or dive).
Some supersonic aircraft may have a full delta
wing. These aircraft have no horizontal stabilizer,
and their elevators and ailerons are combined
into control surfaces called elevons. In aircraft
with internally mounted jet engines, exhausts are
normally located in the tail. High-performance
jets have afterburners that give additional thrust
at the cost of greatly increased fuel consumption.
Rudder, ailerons, and elevators are collectively
grouped as control surfaces. The ailerons and
elevators are controlled by the stick or a similar
device in the cockpit. The rudder is controlled by
foot pedals. On high-performance aircraft, aero-
dynamic pressures on these surfaces become too
great for a pilot to overcome manually; hence,
all high-speed models today have power-assisted
controls. Figure 12-1 shows representative types
of fixed-wing aircraft.