We are rapidly approaching the 100th anniversary of Eugene Ely's historic flight of the deck of the cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-2) that occurred here in Hampton Roads. The flight was the first successful attempt to fly a plane off of a ship. That is not say there weren't others who tried.
During the 1907 Jamestown Exposition, there was a small and largely unappreciated group of engineers and entrepreneurs who wanted to show off the wonders of flight. In this picture is one of those men,"aeronaut" A.G. Mass. Mass and his flying machine are next to the armored cruiser USS Brooklyn (ACR-3) during the Exposition. Mass' plane was not powered and had to be pulled by a torpedo boat doing flank speed in order to achieve take off. Unfortunately, Mass' contraption fell apart and swamped during the attempt. Mass' supervisor, Isarel Ludlow, was not discouraged by the attempt and only commented "Sooner or later, these problems will be solved."