November 14, 1910
(Eugene) "Ely was able to get the compromised plane in the air, if only for a short time. After proving a plane could take off from a ship (The USS Birmingham!), Ely searched for the nearest patch of dry land and touched down, ending the five-minute flight after less than three miles.
While the flight did not last as long as intended, the powers-that-be, including Navy Secretary George Meyer, were impressed, and Meyer called for more funding to study the potential of naval aviation."
...And the rest, as they say, is history.
Full story is HERE (at the military.com website)