Ellyson, Theodore Gordon, CDR

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1926-1928, USS Lexington (CV-2)
Service Years
1905 - 1928

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

195 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Bersley H. Thomas, Jr. (Tom), SMCS to remember Ellyson, Theodore Gordon (1st Navy Pilot), CDR.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Richmond, Virginia
Last Address
Richmond, Virginia

Date of Passing
Feb 27, 1928
Location of Interment
U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery - Annapolis, Maryland
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

Allied Command Atlantic

 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Golden Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon

 Military Association Memberships
United States Naval Academy Alumni Association
  1905, United States Naval Academy Alumni Association [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Commander Ellyson was killed on 27 February 1928, his 43rd birthday, in the crash of an aircraft in the lower Chesapeake Bay while on a night flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Annapolis, Maryland.

Other Comments:

Theodore Gordon Ellyson, Commander, U.S.N.
"Submariner" and "Naval Aviator Number One"

1885 - 1928

First United States Naval Aviator, 1911

Inducted in 1984

Theodore "Spuds" Ellyson began training in 1910 at the Glen Curtiss flight training school in San Diego and was Curtiss' first seaplane pupil. As the United States Navy's first pilot, Lieutenant Ellyson accompanied Curtiss on test flights of the first practical seaplane on January 26, 1911.

Flying a Curtiss seaplane, Ellyson and Navy Lieutenant J. H. Towers made the longest over-water flight yet attempted in October 1911. They flew from Annapolis, Maryland, to within two miles of Fort Monroe, Virginia, traveling over the Chesapeake Bay nearly the entire flight.

Ellyson was at the controls for the first successful catapult launch of the Curtis A-1 "Flying Boat" from an anchored barge at the Washington Navy Yard in November 1912. This was an important early step toward flying airplanes from ships and led to the development of aircraft carriers.

Commander Ellyson was a leader in naval aviation until he was killed in a crash off Hampton Roads, Virginia, in February 1928. Ironically, his plane came ashore at the same site his predecessor, Eugene Ely, landed his aircraft in November 1910 after the first successful takeoff from a naval vessel.

First Flight Society

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 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings
Submarine Officer Badge
Command Ashore
Command at Sea

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US NavyUSS Rainbow (AS-7) USS Shark/ A-7 (SS-8)NAS North Island
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)NAVSUBASE New London/GrotonCOMNAVSUBFORUnder Secretary of the Navy (UNSECNAV), Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)USS Lexington (CV-2)
  1905-1906, USS Texas
  1906-1906, USS Missouri (BB-11)
  1906-1907, USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4)
  1907-1908, USS Colorado (ACR-7)
  1908-1908, USS West Virginia (ACR-5)
  1909-1909, USS Rainbow (AS-7)
  1909-1910, USS Shark/ A-7 (SS-8)
  1910-1910, USS S-12 (SS-117)
  1910-1910, USS G-1 (SS-19.5)
  1913-1917, NAS North Island
  1917-1917, USS Wyoming (BB-32)
  1917-1918, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1917-1918, USS Kansas (BB-21)
  1918-1918, NAVSUBASE New London/Groton
  1919-1920, USS J. Fred Talbott (DD-156)
  1920-1920, USS Little (DD-79)
  1920-1920, USS Brooks (DD-232)
  1921-1922, Under Secretary of the Navy (UNSECNAV), Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
  1922-1925, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
  1926-1926, USS Wright (AV-1)
  1926-1928, USS Lexington (CV-2)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I/Anti-Submarine Warfare
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1901-1905, United States Naval Academy
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