Chronology of Significant Events in Naval Aviation:
"Naval Air Transport"

1941 -- 1999
edited and compiled by Mark W Felhofer, PO1 USN ,Retired

the source for this is the DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
Chronology of Significant Events in Naval Aviation
All references to Naval Air Transport were compiled on this document
Other information presented herein is that of the editor.
For a black and white version of this page for printing click HERE


1941

DECEMBER

12--The Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) was established under the Chief of Naval Operations to provide rapid air delivery of critical
equipment, spare parts, and specialist personnel to naval activities and fleet forces all over the world.

1942

MARCH

9--VR-1, the first of 13 VR squadrons established under the Naval Air Transport Service during World War II, was
established at Norfolk, Commander C. K. Wildman commanding

APRIL

1--VR-2 established at Alameda, California.

MAY

15--A VR-2 flight from Alameda to Honolulu, the first transoceanic flight by NATS aircraft, initiated air
transport service in the Pacific.

JUNE

26--Scheduled Naval Air Transport Service operations between the West coast and Alaska were initiated by VR-2.

JULY

15--VR-3 established at Kansas City, Kansas.

SEPTEMBER

6--The first Naval Air Transport Service flight to Argentina, Newfoundland, marked the beginning of air transport
expansion along the eastern seaboard that during the month extended briefly to
Iceland and reached southward to the Canal Zone and Rio de Janeiro.

7--Air Transport Squadron 2 (VR-2), based at Alameda, established a detachment at Pearl Harbor
and began a survey flight to the South Pacific as a preliminary to establishing routes between
San Francisco and Brisbane, Australia.

OCTOBER

31--Air Transport Squadrons (Pacific) was established over the NATS squadrons based in the
Pacific and those on the west coast flying the mainland to Hawaii routes.

1943

FEBRUARY

13--The Naval Air Transport Service was reorganized and the establishment of Wings was directed for
the Atlantic and Pacific coast squadrons.

MARCH

1--Air Transport Squadrons, West Coast, was established at NAAS Oakland with control over all NATS
squadrons west of the Mississippi except those on the mainland to Honolulu run.

29--Air Transport Squadrons, Atlantic, was established at Norfolk to supervise and direct operations of
NATS squadrons based on the Atlantic seaboard.

MAY

3--Air Transport Squadron 1 (VR-1), based at Norfolk, extended the area of its operations
with a flight to Prestwick, Scotland, via Reykjavik, Iceland. This was the first R5D operation in the
Naval Air Transport Service.

NOVEMBER

27--The first of the Martin Mars Flying boats was delivered to VR-8 at NAS Patuxent River, MD.

DECEMBER

1--The Naval Air Ferry Command was established as a Wing of the Naval Air Transport Service.
It assumed the functions previously performed by Aircraft Delivery Units
in ferrying new aircraft from contractor plants and modification centers to
embarkation points for ultimate delivery to the Fleet.

1944

APRIL

23--VR-3 operated the first regularly scheduled NATS transcontinental hospital flight between
Washington, D.C., and March Field, Calif.

MAY

15--The first of 16 special transatlantic flights was made by NATS aircraft to the United Kingdom
to deliver 165,000 pounds of minesweeping gear essential to the safety of assault
shipping during the Normandy invasion. The delivery was successfully completed 23 May.

JUNE

1--Air Transport Squadron 9 (VR-9) was formed at Pax River and VR-12 at Honolulu to function
as headquarters and maintenance squadrons for their respective commands, NATS Atlantic and NATS Pacific.

1945

MARCH

3--The Naval Air Transport Service was reorganized and established as a Fleet Command
with headquarters at NAAS Oakland, to operate under the immediate direction of CinC and CNO.

17--Responsibility for evacuating wounded personnel was assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service

1946

1947

1948

MAY

25--Two Support Wings were established and placed under a Commander, Fleet Logistics Support Wings, to provide, subsequent
to the merger of Navy and Air Force air transport commands, such air logistic support services over routes of sole Navy interest
as would be required for internal administration and the fulfillment of the Navy's mission.

JUNE

1--The Naval Air Transport Service and the Air Transport Service of the Air Force Air Transport Command, were
consolidated to form the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) as a unified element of the National Military
Establishment under the command and direction of the U. S. Air Force. (to become MAC, then AMC).

JULY

1--The Naval Air Transport Service, which had remained in being after the establishment of MATS to assist
in the transfer of Navy units to the new organization, was disestablished after 6 l/2 years of distinguished service.

AUGUST

28--The JRM-2 Caroline Mars of VR-2, landed at Chicago with 42 persons on board and a 14,000 lb payload, after a record nonstop
flight from Honolulu of 4,748 miles in 24 hours, 12 minutes.

SEPTEMBER

1--Special designations for transport squadrons, as VRF and VRU, became VR.

5--The JRM-2 Caroline Mars of VR-2, on a 390 mile flight from Patuxent River, MD, to Cleveland, OH, carried a 68,282 lb cargo, the
heaviest payload ever lifted in an aircraft.

OCTOBER

27--Operation Vittles--Navy Transport Squadrons 6 and 8 (VR-6 & VR-8) of the Military Air Transport Service, were
ordered to move from their Pacific bases to Germany to take part in the Berlin Airlift.

DECEMBER

17--To meet the mounting requirements for transatlantic airlift in support of Operation Vittles, MATS
Navy Squadron VR-3 was switched from flying the domestic routes to the Westover, Mass., to Frankfurt, Germany, run.

1949

FEBRUARY

3--The Lockheed R6O Constitution, commissioned the day before at NAS Alameda, inaugurated her transcontinental
service, Moffett Field to Washington, D.C., by establishing a new record for personnel carried on a transcontinental flight.
With 78 passengers and 18 crewmen, the 92-ton plane crossed the continent in 9 hours and 35 minutes.

25--The Caroline Mars, a JRM-2 flying boat, broke the world record for passenger lift by transporting
202 men from Alameda to San Diego, and broke it again the same day on the
return flight with a load of 218 men. These loads were in addition to a four-man crew.

MARCH

4--The Caroline Mars, a JRM-2 flying boat of Transport Squadron 2 (VR-2), set a new record for persons carried aloft
by transporting 263 passengers and a crew of six on a Fleet Logistic Air Wings flight from San Diego to Alameda.
The flight was of 2 hours 41 minutes duration and the passengers were the officers and men of Air Group 15 on a routine transfer of station.

31--The best monthly total of the Berlin Airlift to date was made as U.S. aircraft delivered 154,475 tons of cargo
to the city. In making its contribution to the total, Navy Transport Squadron VR-8 set an all-time
airlift record of 155 percent efficiency for the month, and daily utilization of 12.2 hours per aircraft.

MAY

19--The JRM-1 Marshall Mars broke the record for number of people carried on a single flight when
301 passengers and a crew of seven were flown from Alameda to San Diego.

JULY

31--The participation of Navy Transport Squadrons 6 and 8 in the Berlin Airlift ended. During their 8 months in Germany, these
squadrons flew a total of 45,990 hours, carried 129,989 tons of cargo into Berlin, and established a
record of payload efficiency and aircraft utilization at the unparalleled figure of better than
10 hours per day per plane for the entire period.

DECEMBER

1--In a reorganization of air transport services, the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Logistic Support Wings
ceased to exist and all air transport units were consolidated under a single command-the Fleet Logistic Air Wing.

9--A reorganization of the Naval Air Reserve was completed in which 26 Transport Squadrons were placed under the command
of 27 Air Wings established at as many Reserve Air Stations spread throughout the country.


1950

JUNE

19--The Caroline Mars completed the 2,609 miles flight from Honolulu to San Diego with 144 men aboard for the largest passenger lift over
the Pacific on record.

JULY

27--To meet the requirements of supporting combat forces in Korea, Fleet Logistics Air Wing, Pacific, was established as a unit of the
Pacific Fleet and independent from the existing Fleet Logistic Air Wing.

SEPTEMBER

18--Fleet Logistic Air Wing was replaced by Fleet Logistic Air Wing, Atlantic/Continental, and assigned status parallel to that of the previously established Fleet Logistic Air Wing, Pacific

1951

1952

1953

JUNE

23--LCDR George H. Whisler, Jr., of VR-31 (Ferry Squadron), completed the first transcontinental round-trip solo flight between
sunrise and sunset. LDCR Whisler departed NAS Norfolk at 0518 in a F9F-6 Cougar (buno 127432) and landed a NAS North Island at
0905 local time, after stops at NAS Memphis and Webb AFB, Texas. After 50 minutes on the ground, LCDR Whisler departed NAS North
Island in a F3D-2 Skynight (buno 127076) headed for NAS Norfolk. He refueled at NAS Dallas and arrived at NAS Norfolk at 1921 local time.

1954

1955

FEBRUARY

1--Mark Wayne Felhofer is born, future AMH1(AW/NAC) , USN, the compiler of this chronology.

MARCH

22--A Navy R6D of VR-3, assigned to MATS, crashed and exploded at 0203 on Pali Kea Peak, 15 miles
northwest of Honolulu, killing all on board. The 57 passengers and nine crew members lost in this tragedy made it the worst heavier-than-air crash in naval aviation history.

1956
AUGUST

22--LCDR Virgil Solomon set down the Marianas Mars on waters off NAS Alameda after a flight from Honolulu and completed the last scheduled
passenger run for Mars aircraft.

OCTOBER

11--An R6D-1 of Air Transport Squadron 6 (VR-6), on a scheduled MATS flight from Lakenheath, England, to Lajes in the
Azores, disappeared over the Atlantic with 50 passengers and a crew of nine on board. Extensive
search by ships and aircraft for the next 14 days found debris from the plane but no survivors.

1957
JULY

15--After the establishment of the Single Manager for Airlift Service, the Fleet Logistic Air Wings
were abolished and transport squadrons not assigned to the Single Manager Service were redesignated
Fleet Tactical Support Squadrons (VR) and reassigned to operate directly under the control of Fleet commanders.

1958
APRIL

21--To clarify command relationships and to permit the closer integration of Navy units into the Single Manager Airlift Service, the
Chief of Naval Operations directed that Navy squadrons assigned be organized in Naval Air Transport Wings, one for the Pacific and another for the Atlantic.

JUNE

26--A Gruman TF-1 (C-1A), of VR-21 at San Diego, delivered a J-34 engine to Yorktown 300 miles at sea, in the first delivery of an aircraft engine by carrier-on-board delivery (COD).

1959

1960

FEBRUARY

25--A Navy R6D transport, carrying members of the Navy Band and a team of antisubmarine specialists, collided with a Brazilian air liner over Sugar
Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. The accident took the lives of all 26 persons on board the air liner and all but three of the 38 Navy men on board the R6D.

JULY

1--The first Carrier On-board Delivery Squadron, Fleet Tactical Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40), was established at
NAS Norfolk, Commander J. H. Crawford commanding.

1961

1962

1963

1964

FEBRUARY

28--A helicopter piloted by Commander D. W. Fisher of HU-1 made the first landing on the deck of the combat store ship Mars (AFS 1) during her
shakedown cruise off San Diego. Although the concept of vertical replenishment at sea had been discussed and tested as early as 1959 and
helicopter platforms had been installed on certain logistics ships since then, commissioning of the Mars provided the first real opportunity to
incorporate the helicopter into the fleet logistic support system.

1965

MAY

18--Members of the Naval Air Reserve began a volunteer airlift supporting operations in Vietnam. On weekends these pilots and crews- flying C-54
and C-118 aircraft of the Air Reserve-- carried key personnel and urgently needed cargo to the combat zone, logging over 19,000 flight hours in the first 18 months of the operation.

OCTOBER

15--To expand Pacific airlift capabilities, Transport Squadron 22 (VR-22) was moved from its base at NAS Norfolk to the west-coast at NAS Moffett Field.

1966

MARCH

1--The Naval Air Transport Wing, Atlantic was disestablished.

OCTOBER

1--Fleet Tactical Support Squadron 50 (VRC-50) established at NAS Atsugi, Japan. Fleet Tactical Support Squadron 30 (VR-30) established at NAS Alameda, California. Both squadrons were former VR-21 detachments.

1967

JUNE

30--The Naval Air Transport Wing, Pacific, was disestablished at NAS Moffett Field

JULY

19--Air Transport Squadron Three (VR-3), last Navy component of the Military Airlift Command, was disestablished at McGuire AFB, ending an inter-service partnership that began in 1948 when Navy and Air Force transport squadrons combined to form the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).

1968

JANUARY

19--A C-130 Hercules of VR-24 and helicopters from NAF Sigonella delivered food, clothing and medicine to the west coast of Sicily to aid some 40,000 persons made homeless by an earthquake in the region of Montevago.

1969


1970

APRIL

1--Two Reserve Carrier Air Wings, CVWR-20 and CVWR-30, were established followed by CVSGR-70 and CVSGR-80 on 1 May. This was a continuation of a program initiated in July 1968 to give Naval Air Reserve squadrons an improved combat readiness. The reorganization placed all carrier-type squadrons in two reserve carrier air wings and two carrier ASW groups. Twelve VP and 3 VR squadrons joined the carrier squadrons under the control of Commander Naval Air Reserve Force.

1971

DECEMBER

2--NAF Cam Ranh Bay was disestablished.

1972

JANUARY

1--The U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Pacific area of responsibility was shifted westward to include the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. U.S. naval
communications, refueling and logistical airstrip facilities continued under construction on the island of Diego Garcia to assist in covering
the new area of responsibility for the U.S. Navy. Future site for the VRC-50 US-3A detachment.

1973

JUNE

6--Mark Wayne Felhofer, compiler of this chronology, enlists in the United States Navy, in San Antonio, Texas.

1974

APRIL

2--The last C-54 Skymaster in the Navy's flying inventory was retired to storage. The twenty-nine year old C-54Q saw its last service with the Naval Test
Pilot School, NAS Patuxent River. The Skymaster, Bureau Number 56501, had flown almost 15,000 hours with more
than 2,500,000 nautical miles since its acceptance on 24 March 1945.

1975

JULY

12--The Navy phased out the last C-117 (Douglas DC-3), perhaps the most famous transport plane of all time.
The last C-117 was flown from Pensacola to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona -- aircraft storage for obsolete military aircraft.

DECEMBER

1--Naval Air Facility, China Lake, California was disestablished after more than 30 years.
1--NAAS Saufley Field was disestablished.

1976

1977

MARCH

1--The Naval Air Station (NAS) at Lakehurst, New Jersey was disestablished.

1978

APRIL

14--The first of 12 C-2A Greyhounds COD aircraft rolled off the service life extension program (SLEP) line at NARF North Island.
SLEP adds between seven and ten years of service to the carrier-on-board-delivery aircraft.
There was no other aircraft in the Navy's inventory which could carry as many supplies and personnel to a carrier at sea.

1979

JUNE

20--Lieutenant Dona Spruill became the first Navy woman pilot to carrier-qualify (CQ) in a fixed-wing aircraft. Lieutenant Spruill piloted a C-1A Trader to an arrested landing aboard USS Independence (CV 62)

AUGUST

30--A U.S. Navy CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter of VR-24 lifted a 12-foot bronze statue of the Madonna and Child
to the top of Mt. Tiberius on Capri, Italy, to replace one which had been destroyed by lightning. The statue was too large to be transported overland.

SEPTEMBER

15--The first UC-12B for the Navy arrived at NATC Pax River for Preliminary Evaluation tests. The UC-12B is the military version of the Beechcraft Super
King Air 200 which was purchased by the Navy to replace aging reciprocating engine aircraft and supplement the Navy's transport inventory.
The UC-12B was designed to carry 8 to 12 passengers. It had a maximum cruise speed of 300 mph and a range up to 1,760 miles.
The aircraft could operate from short, grass runways and fly at 31,000 feet. It had advanced solid state avionics which could
automatically navigate the plane through bad weather conditions. The UC-12B had been designed for reliability, maintainability and low cost of
operation, with a configuration which lent itself to a variety of transport, training and utility missions


1980

NOVEMBER

25--RH-53D Sea Stallions from VR-24, together with units of the U.S. Army and Air Force, began disaster relief assistance to victims of the devastating
earthquake at Avellino, Italy, on November 23, which killed over 3,000 persons and made many more homeless. Commander Fleet Air, Mediterranean, headquartered at Naples, was director of U.S. Military support efforts.

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989


1990

1991

1992

1993

MAY

1--AMH1(AW/NAC) Mark Wayne Felhofer is transfered to the Fleet Reserve.

1994

OCTOBER

1-- Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 50 (VRC-50) is disestablished at Andersen AFB, Guam.

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999