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Elmer F. Stone
Commander Elmer "Archie" Fowler Stone was a Coast Guard aviation pioneer. He was one of two officers to first suggest that the Coast Guard develop an aviation capability and became the Coast Guard's first aviator upon graduating from flight training at Pensacola. Stone piloted the Navy's NC-4 on its historic and successful trans-Atlantic flight in 1919. For this daring feat, Stone earned a Congressional Medal of Achievement as well as a Navy Cross.
Stone then worked with the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics for the next six years as a test pilot. Here he assisted in the development of the catapults and arresting gear of the new aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Saratoga, equipment still used on aircraft carriers to this day.
After a tour at sea, "Archie" Stone became the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Aviation Unit at Cape May, NJ. He continued to develop his skill at making open-ocean landings until he was arguably the best seaplane pilot in any of the world's naval services. In 1933 when the Navy dirigible Akron went down off the Atlantic coast in a storm with only three survivors of the 76 aboard, Stone was the only pilot available willing to attempt a landing in the heavy seas. He accomplished this successfully, but was too late to save any more lives.
In December 1934 Stone set a new world speed for amphibian aircraft. His last duty was as the commanding officer of the Air Patrol Detachment in San Diego. He died of a heart attack while on duty on 26 May 1936 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Stone was a pivotal figure in the establishment and development of aviation for the Coast Guard and the Navy and was a favorite of many of the famous aviation figures of the day, including Eddie Rickenbacker, aircraft designers Anthony Fokker, Igor Sikorsky, and Alexander P. de Seversky and the Prince of Wales. Commander Elmer "Archie" Stone was enshrined in the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor in 1983.
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