SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The daughter and several descendants of the Navy's first aviator visited Naval Air Station, North Island for the base's open house and the Centennial of Naval Aviation's Parade of Flight event for a tour of the facilities and an A-1 Triad demonstration, Feb. 11 and 12.
Elizabeth Gordon Ellyson Carmichael, 89, the last surviving child of Navy Aviator #1 Lt. Theodore Gordon Ellyson, and her family provided a living historical connection to the past of Naval Aviation, said Centennial Parade of Flight Air Boss Lt. Cmdr Ed Chandler.
"I'm aviator number something too big for me even to remember, and he was Naval Aviator number one; the first guy brave enough to go out there and be taught how to fly a Navy airplane," Chandler said.
Family members of the pioneering aviator expressed their appreciation for the attention given to Ellyson.
"We grew up with legends and stories of T.G. Ellyson, so it is neat to see what he was doing 100 years ago at this location, and it has been fun participating," said Tony B. Court, 58, grandson of Ellyson.
Court would later have an opportunity to assist in the preparation of an A-1 Triad demonstration, helping to wheel a replica of the plane his grandfather flew to its launch point in the San Diego Bay. While the replica A-1 Triad did not become airborne, it did skim around the bay, while the family and other observers watched. Ellyson made history when he flew the Navy's first A-1 Triad in its maiden flight in Hammondsport, N.Y.
"The plane is amazing, we've assembled three branches of the family to witness this event and it's one we will certainly remember," said Court.
This event marks the first time some of the family have been to any kind of air show or seen a functional A-1 Triad.
"I'm very impressed that my grandfather flew such a frail plane and did so well at it," said Bill Court, 61,grandson of Ellyson. "Being able to see this first hand for the first time, I realize what an incredibly great man my grandfather was," he said.
Touring the flight line and viewing some of the more modern aircraft, the family got to see the evolution of Naval Aviation from that frail A-1 to advanced F-18s.
"One hundred years really isn't that long of a time period when you think about it," said aspiring Naval Aviator T. Gordon Ellyson Court, 17, named after his great-grandfather. "When you look at all these Navy fighter planes and aircraft and then see that my great-grand father was the first one to start this whole new business, it is amazing when you think about it."
In 2011, the Navy is observing the Centennial of Naval Aviation with a series of events nationwide celebrating 100 years of heritage, progress and achievement in naval aviation.
For more news from Commander, Naval Air Forces, visit www.navy.mil/local/airpac/.