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paulmcmillan 18th May 2016 19:09

First US Navy Parachute Incident
The first occasion in which a US Naval Personnel occurred on

October 16, 1924 when a mid-air collision occurred at 1,300 feet over Coronado, Calif.

'Gunner' William Marvin Coles, USN, of VF Squadron 1 who was piloting one of the aircraft jumped from the wing of his aircraft jumped and pulled the parachute after dropping 500 feet. He was uninjured

It was reported that "two navy Vought airplanes" were involved and the crew of the other aircraft U.S. Navy Enlisted Aviation pilot Robert H. Kerr aviation chief machinist mate from NAS San Diego and passenger Ensign Merritt J Flanders from the Aircraft Tender USS Vega. The crew did not have parachutes and were killed.

Kerr and Flanders bodies were recovered from the wreckage at Coronado and Coles machine ended up on the Coronado golf links and caught fire

But I have also seen it quoted that Coles was flying a JN-4 (Curtiss Jenny) and the Vought may be a Vought VE-7 BlueBird

I was wondering if anyone could confirm any of the details

Coles died in 1980 in California
Many Thanks

Paul McMillan

twocee 19th May 2016 12:57

Re: First US Navy Parachute Incident
The aircraft involved were VE-7, A6014, assigned to NAS San Diego (Kerr & Flanders) and JN-6H, A6275, of VF-1 (Coles). Kerr overtook Coles from above and was assigned blame.

paulmcmillan 19th May 2016 14:55

Re: First US Navy Parachute Incident

Thanks again for your help on this


paulmcmillan 28th March 2017 18:04

Re: First US Navy Parachute Incident
From Book "Aces of the Air"
Article Parachutes!
By Lt H B Miller USN
Engineering Officer, Fighting Plane Squadron Two

Later Rear-Admiral Harold Blaine "Min" Miller



Page 86

"The first emergency jump in naval aviation was made by Gunner W. M. Cole on October 16th, 1924. Cole was flying under clouds at about 1,200 feet. Suddenly he felt a shock and saw that his left wing had been carried away by a second plane which had dived through the clouds. With his ship out of control he jumped clear, counted three and pulled his rip-cord. The parachute opened at once, and landed him on the golf course of the Coronado Country Club. The occupants of the other plane did not survive the collision."

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