On April 8,1925, Lieutenant John D. Price, piloting a VF-1 plane, made a night landing on USS Langley (CV 1), at sea off San Diego, Calif., and was followed on board by Lieutenants Delbert L. Conley, Aldolphus W. Gorton and Rossmore D. Lyon. Except for an accidental landing on the night of 5 February when Lieutenant Harold J. Brow stalled while practicing night approaches, these were the first night landings made on board a U.S. Navy carrier.
John Dale Price (May 18, 1892 – December 18, 1957) was an admiral in the United States Navy who, early in his career, set many records as a naval aviator.
He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1916 along with his friendSpig Wead. In 1920, he was designated a naval aviator. Lieutenants Wead and Price set five world records for Class C seaplanes with a Curtiss CS-2 biplane on June 22–23, 1924 – distance (963.123 miles, 1,544.753 km), duration (13 hours, 23 minutes, 15 seconds), speed over 500 km (73.41 mph, 117.74 km/h), speed over 1,000 km (74.27 mph, 119.12 km/h) and speed over 1,500 km (74.17 mph, 118.96 km/h) – and again on July 11–12 – distance (994.19 miles, 1599.99 km) and duration (14 hours, 53 minutes, 44 seconds). Lieutenant Price is also credited with making the first planned night landing on a US aircraft carrier, on the USS Langley (CV-1) in a TS fighter biplane on April 8, 1925 (Lieutenant Harold J. Brow “stalled while practicing night approaches” and landed by accident on February 5).
He served in World War II, and at some point commanded Fleet Air Wing Two as a rear admiral. After the war, he served as commander of the Naval Air Forces in the Pacific from 1947 until 1948 and Vice Chief of Naval Operations for Air from 1948 until 1950. He was a “tombstone admiral”, meaning he was promoted to four star rank upon retirement.
He died in 1957 at the Naval Hospital in San Diego. He was survived by his wife Miriam.
Admiral Price was played by Ken Curtis in the 1957 film The Wings of Eagles, which starred John Wayne as Spig Wead. Price also served as a technical adviser on the film.
On the Web: Naval Aviation during this period