Float Planes & Flying Boats: The U.S. Coast Guard and Early Naval Aviation. By Capt. Robert B. Workman, Jr. USCG (Ret.). Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2012. Photographs. Index. Appendices. Glossary. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. xx, 253. $27.95 ISBN: 978-1-61251107-8.
Captain Workman exhibits "frustration" (his word) with the lack of solid information regarding his Coast Guard aviation heritage and the concurrent development of naval aviation as a whole. He particularly emphasizes the close collaboration between services from the initial efforts in the second decade of the twentieth century to the years immediately preceding World War II. Using as a literary vehicle the professional biography of Coast Guard Aviator #1 and U.S. Navy Aviator #38, Commander Elmer F. Stone, Workman has remedied his frustration.
Quite honestly, I was unaware of the close collaboration and frequent cross-pollination of ideas between the naval services--Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps--when it came to aviation, its development, and its implementation. Workman has done an excellent job of righting that shortcoming in aviation literature. He describes many examples such as the Navy loaning aircraft to the Coast Guard; the training of over 500 Naval aviators at NAS Key West during World War I under a Coast Guard commanding officer; and assignment of Coast Guard officers to Navy engineering projects, operational commands, and training centers.
Slightly more than the first half of the story covers the period from 1898 through the first transatlantic flight by the NC-4. Workman covers Stone as he and a host of early aviation greats, such as Chambers, Towers, Byrd, Mitscher, Rickenbacker, and others who...