Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumPioneers of Flight

Military Aviation

Carrier Aviation

Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey Chevalier landing on the USS Langley

Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey Chevalier makes the first landing on the Langley on October 26, 1922, in an Aeromarine 39-B.

During the 1920s and 1930s, aviation became an integral part of the traditional seagoing navy. The creation of a dedicated naval aviation service, the Bureau of Aeronautics, in 1921 led to the expansion of aircraft roles from scouting and patrol to such offensive uses as dive-bombing and fighter pursuit.

The key to the bureau's mission was the aircraft carrier, a floating airfield that could sail with the fleet anywhere in the world. The bureau issued specifications for carriers and developed procedures for operating aircraft at sea. Its naval aviators pioneered new tactics for shipboard dive-bomber, torpedo, and fighter squadrons. Overall, the bureau encouraged new technology that made carrier aviation possible.

USS Langley

USS Langley, the first American aircraft carrier, joined the fleet in 1922 and served as the floating laboratory for naval flight operations and technology. The Navy converted the carrier from the collier (coal carrier) Jupiter.

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