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Navy to celebrate centennial of aviation with mass flyover above San Diego

February 12, 2011 |  7:57 am


The sky above the San Diego Bay will be filled with military planes Saturday afternoon as the Navy celebrates the centennial of naval aviation.

Starting at 1 p.m., more than 200 Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard planes will pass over the bay, starting with the Blue Angels, the Navy's flight demonstration team. The flyover will include restored vintage planes, plus the most modern, such as the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.

The flyover is expected to take two hours, with good vantage spots from North Island Naval Air Station and around San Diego Bay, particularly Harbor Island.

The North Island base is also holding an all-day open-house, starting at 9 a.m., with a classic-car show, entertainment, ship tours and more than 75 aircraft on display.

North Island is considered the birthplace of naval aviation. In 1911, a submarine officer, Theodore "Spuds" Ellyson, was assigned by the brass to attend a flying school established on Coronado by New York entrepreneur Glenn Curtiss.

Within months the Navy was convinced that airplanes had a future military use. The first Navy airplane was soon ordered and the Navy established its own flight school.

The centennial  is meant to "honor, celebrate and commemorate those who have and continue to 'Fly Navy,'" said Rear Adm. Pat McGrath.

RELATED: "Navy celebrates 100 years of aviation at San Diego Bay event"

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Blue Angels. Credit: U.S. Navy