Military Monday – Retro Photos: “Cradle of Naval Aviation” is 100 Years Old

Naval Air Station Pensacola’s most famous tenant command is the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the U.S. Navy Blue Angelsls. The Blues fly at airshows all over the world demonstrating their aerial superiority while promoting naval aviation for millions of people with their precision maneuvers.

Naval Air Station Pensacola’s most famous tenant command is the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the U.S. Navy Blue Angelsls. The Blues fly at airshows all over the world demonstrating their aerial superiority while promoting naval aviation for millions of people with their precision maneuvers.

Happy 100th Anniversary, NAS Pensacola!

On January 20, 1914, the aviation unit from Annapolis, Maryland, under Lieutenant John H. Towers, as Officer in Charge, arrived at Pensacola, Florida on board USS Mississippi (BB 23) and USS Orion (AC 11) to set up a flying school. Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin commanded Mississippi and was in command of the aeronautic station.

Pensacola, Florida. Saturday morning inspection of machines on the beach at Pensacola, Florida, 27 January 1917. NHHC Photograph Collection, NR&L file, Places.

Pensacola, Florida. Saturday morning inspection of machines on the beach at Pensacola, Florida, 27 January 1917. NHHC Photograph Collection, NR&L file, Places.

The United States Navy’s official interest in airplanes emerged as early as 1898. That year the Navy assigned officers to sit on an interservice board investigating the military possibilities of Samuel P. Langley’s flying machine. In subsequent years there were naval observers at air meets here and abroad and at the public demonstrations staged by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1908 and 1909. All were enthusiastic about the potential of the airplane as a fleet scout. By 1909, naval officers, including a bureau chief, were urging the purchase of aircraft.

Pensacola, Florida. View taken 1915-16, shows the Naval Air Station. Note hangars at left; USS North Carolina (CA 12) in lower center view. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Dichmann Collection. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 83913.

Pensacola, Florida. View taken 1915-16, shows the Naval Air Station. Note hangars at left; USS North Carolina (CA 12) in lower center view. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Dichmann Collection. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 83913.

It was in 1910 that a place was made for aviation in the organizational structure of the Navy. That was the year Captain Washington I. Chambers was designated as the officer to whom all aviation matters were to be referred. Although holding no special title, he pulled together existing threads of aviation interest within the Navy and gave official recognition to the proposals of inventors and builders. Before the Navy had either planes or pilots he arranged a series of tests in which Glenn Curtiss and Eugene Ely dramatized the airplane’s capability for shipboard operations and showed the world and a skeptical Navy that aviation could go to sea.

USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23). Fitting out at the Cramp shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1907. Note: Ship's name on stern; hull primed for painting; after 12"/45 gun turret with roof not yet installed. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, 19-N-8-18-14.

USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23). Fitting out at the Cramp shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1907. Note: Ship’s name on stern; hull primed for painting; after 12″/45 gun turret with roof not yet installed. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, 19-N-8-18-14.

Early in 1911 the first naval officer reported for flight training. By mid-year, the first money had been appropriated, the first aircraft had been purchased, the first pilot had qualified, and the site of the first aviation camp had been selected. The idea of a seagoing aviation force was beginning to take form as plans and enthusiasms were transformed into realities. By the end of the year a humble beginning had been made.

Commissioned Officers of the Aviation Corps, at the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, Florida, March 1914. Present are (left to right): Lieutenant V. D. Herbster, Lieutenant W.M. McIlvain, USMC; Lieutenant Junior Grade P.N.L. Bellinger, Lieutenant Junior Grade R. C. Saufley, Lieutenant J.H. Towers, Lieutenant Commander H. C. Mustin, Lieutenant B.L. Smith, USMC, Ensign G. DeC. Chavlier, and Ensign M.L. Stolz. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Collection of Captain H.C. Richardson. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 95633.

Commissioned Officers of the Aviation Corps, at the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, Florida, March 1914. Present are (left to right): Lieutenant V. D. Herbster, Lieutenant W.M. McIlvain, USMC; Lieutenant Junior Grade P.N.L. Bellinger, Lieutenant Junior Grade R. C. Saufley, Lieutenant J.H. Towers, Lieutenant Commander H. C. Mustin, Lieutenant B.L. Smith, USMC, Ensign G. DeC. Chavlier, and Ensign M.L. Stolz. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Collection of Captain H.C. Richardson. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 95633.

The need for more science and less rule of thumb was apparent to Captain Chambers. He collected the writings and scientific papers of leaders in the new field, pushed for a national aerodynamics laboratory, and encouraged naval constructors to work on aerodynamic and hydrodynamic problems.

This photograph showing seaplanes on the beach was taken in March 1914. NHHC Photograph Collection, NR&L Files.

This photograph showing seaplanes on the beach was taken in March 1914. NHHC Photograph Collection, NR&L Files.

The Navy built a wind tunnel, and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was established. The first real study of what was needed in aviation was conducted by a board under Chambers’ leadership and included in its recommendations the establishment of a ground and flight training center at Pensacola, Fla., the expansion of research, and the assignment of an airplane to every major combatant ship of the Navy.

Pensacola, Florida. View of the Aviation Station, circa 1915-1916. Note USS North Carolina (CA 12) at lower right; aviation hangers at the middle right; destroyers at the dock, center. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Dichmann Collection. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 83912.

Pensacola, Florida. View of the Aviation Station, circa 1915-1916. Note USS North Carolina (CA 12) at lower right; aviation hangers at the middle right; destroyers at the dock, center. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Dichmann Collection. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 83912.

Progress in these early years was marked by an endurance record of six hours in the air; the first successful catapult launch of an airplane from a ship; exercises with the Fleet during winter maneuvers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and combat sorties at Veracruz, Mexico.

Canvas tent hangars line the shore at the Pensacola Navy Yard after the arrival of the first naval aviators to establish an aeronautic station there.

Canvas tent hangars line the shore at the Pensacola Navy Yard after the arrival of the first naval aviators to establish an aeronautic station there.

These were but some of the accomplishments by pioneer pilots. Their activity furthered the importance of aviation to the Navy. In 1914, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels announced that the point had been reached “where aircraft must form a large part of our naval forces for offensive and defensive operations.”

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Bok Tower Gardens, Florida

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This incredible tower might look like a set from Lord of the Rings, but it’s very real, and in Florida

Bok Tower Gardens has offered some of Florida’s most remarkable experiences to more than 23 million visitors since 1929. Through its historic landscape gardens, unique Singing Tower carillon and magnificent 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion, the Gardens offer unparalleled opportunities for artistic, cultural, personal and spiritual enrichment.
bok2Bok Tower Gardens boasts one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The meandering, historic landscape garden was designed to be a contemplative and informal woodland setting offering a series of romantic recesses and tranquil resting spots, picturesque vistas and breathtaking views of the Singing Tower. Acres of ferns, palms, oaks and pines fashion a lush backdrop for flowering foliage and the spectacular seasonal color of azaleas, camellias and magnolias (a highlight of our spring peak bloom season) showcasing an ever-changing work of art.
bok3When Bok Tower Gardens founder Edward W. Bock immigrated to America from Den Helder, Netherlands at age six, he did not understand the language, customs or culture. Through determination and hard work, he became a highly successful publisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, respected humanitarian and an advocate of world peace and the environment.

Having made arrangements to buy land on the hilltop, Bok commissioned Olmsted to change this arid sandhill into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country.” The first year was spent digging trenches and laying water pipes for irrigation, after which rich black soil was brought by the thousands of loads. With the proper conditions for a subtropical garden in place, the planting of bushes and trees began to provide food for migrating birds. Today, these plantings provide shade to visitors as well as refuge for squirrels and 126 bird species.

This lantern was dedicated by one of Edward Bock's employees.  He saved for 7 years and purchased this as a sign of love of humanity.  It is positioned so that Edward's grave can be seen from the lantern.

This lantern was dedicated by one of Edward Bock’s employees. He saved for 7 years and purchased this as a sign of love of humanity. It is positioned so that Edward’s grave can be seen from the lantern.

Created to entice wildlife to take residence, the Reflection Pool gives visitors one of the most memorable experiences in the Gardens. Its location captures the reflection of the Singing Tower and offers the first image visitors have when entering the gardens. The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens. The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image.
bok4A 60-bell carillon (cast by Taylor) set within the 205-foot tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary.

Construction on the tower began in 1927 and was completed for the dedication of the gardens in 1929, when it was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, changing form at 150 feet high to an octagon with 37 feet  sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie.

Stone colors: Each piece was put up separately and was laid by craftsman and artisans

Stone colors: Each piece was put up separately and was laid by craftsman and artisans

The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Although the tower’s interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world. Although, every year, graduating seniors from Lake Wales High School, a local high school located down the street from the tower, have the very rare opportunity to see the inside of the tower. Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier, or keyboard, that is used for playing the carillon bells.

Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set.

Bok Tower Gardens 863-676-1408
1151 Tower Boulevard
Lake Wales, FL 33853 US

On the Web: Bok Tower Gardens

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