Apr 07, 2022 - Sale 2600

Sale 2600 - Lot 29

Price Realized: $ 1,062
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(AVIATION.) Photograph of the first flight from an aircraft carrier. Silver print, possibly a period copy print, 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches, on original plain mount; 1/2-inch puncture and other moderate wear to image, mount worn and stained, missing 3 inches from upper right corner. [Hampton Roads, VA, 14 November 1910]

Additional Details

The bold aviator shown here was Eugene Burton Ely (1886-1911), launching his Curtiss Model D (the "Curtiss Pusher") from an improvised wooden ramp on the deck of the USS Birmingham. As seen here, the plane dipped the moment it left the ramp; its landing gear splashed through the water before he was able to regain some altitude and land safely on a nearby beach. This was the first airplane to take off from a ship, ushering in the age of aircraft carriers.

Ely was a civilian stunt pilot; two months later he succeeded in landing the Pusher on the USS Pennsylvania in the first successful shipboard landing. A crash in an October 1911 air show ended his life; he was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his pioneering aircraft carrier flights.

The original negative, credited to Harry C. Mann, is held by the Library of Virginia.