Collection Item Summary:
This propeller is from a Curtiss Model D pusher biplane flown by Eugene B. Ely on January 18, 1911 for the first landing on a ship, the battleship USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay, using the first ever tailhook system. It is possible, but not likely according to recollections of a relative, that the propeller may have also been used by Eli on November 14, 1910 for the first take-off of the same aircraft from a ship, the cruiser USS Birmingham in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Ely was employed by E. Henry Wemme, who owned the Pacific Northwest franchise for the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. After surviving the crash of a Curtiss aircraft as an untrained novice, he bought and repaired the aircraft, and learned to fly. His feats on Navy ships were sponsored within an investigation of the military uses of aviation. Ely died following a crash on October 19, 1911 during an exhibition in Macon, Georgia.