Off Point Judith, R. I. – November 23, 1911

Off Point Judith, Rhode Island – November 23, 1911

     On November 23, 1911, the United States Navy battleship, U.S.S. Ohio, (BB-12), was in Narragansett Bay to take part in an historical aviation test.  The exercise, reportedly the first of its kind, was to examine the practicality of launching and receiving aircraft aboard a battleship.  If the testing was successful, that navy planned to put the use of aircraft aboard ships into practice. 

     The aircraft to be used was a Burges-Wright “hydro-airplane”, the landing gear of which had been replaced with floats for water use.  The aircraft was piloted by Lieutenant John Rogers, an aviation instructor at Annapolis. 

     At 10:00 AM the aircraft was launched from the Newport Torpedo Station and circled the area at an altitude of about 400 feet before landing in the water next to the Ohio.  There it was brought aboard by a crane mounted to the deck.  Afterwards, the Ohio set course for Point Judith and open water.  Upon arrival, there was a strong wind blowing from the southwest, which was considered ideal conditions as it duplicated conditions that might be encountered at sea. 

     As the aircraft was lowered on the lee side of the ship, Lt. Rogers sat ready to start the engine as soon as it was released from the crane, however, as soon as the release came, a wave struck the aircraft and broke a wing off.  Rogers was not injured, and both he and the plane were brought back aboard the ship and further testing was put on hold.       


     The Evening Times, (Pawtucket, R. I.), “New Hydro Airplane Boards A Warship”, November 24, 1911. 

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