Naval Aviation and our North Island, by Phil Kendro

Many current residents or visitors to San Diego don’t realize that it is where naval aviation began.  Navy Lieutenant Theodore Ellyson arrived to deserted sand flats known as the North Island area of San Diego in 1911. While part of modern day Coronado, this land mass was actually separated during the high tide portion of the day.  Glenn Curtiss, a competitor to the Wright Brothers leased the property and set up shop teaching flying to Army and Navy pilots.  This lasted until 1917, the beginning of the American entry into World War I, when the military assumed the area.


While the Navy initially set up a camp in the same area in 1912, the Army later took control in 1913 until the area was split into camps for both the Navy and Army.  Initially known as “Camp Trouble” for the Navy, North Island was finally commissioned a Naval Air Station in 1917, and called Naval Air Station San Diego until 1955. On August 15, 1963, the station was granted official recognition as the "Birthplace of Naval Aviation" by resolution of the House Armed Services Committee.

Today, you can experience flight over and around the Birthplace of Aviation similar to planes that flew during World War I.  Join us at and learn more.

Photo shot over North Island during one of our formation tours in 2016.  Biplanes flew in this airspace for over 100 years now.  San Diego's Aviation Heritage.