Elmer Fowler Stone

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Elmer Fowler Stone
Elmer Fowler Stone.jpg
Commander Elmer Fowler Stone
Born (1887-01-22)January 22, 1887
Livonia, New York
Died May 20, 1936(1936-05-20) (aged 49)
San Diego, California
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Coast Guard
Years of service 1910-1936
Rank Commander
Awards Navy Cross
NC-4 Medal
Air Force Cross (UK)

Elmer "Archie" Fowler Stone (January 22, 1887 - May 20, 1936) was a United States naval aviator and a commander in the United States Coast Guard.[1]


Stone was born in Livonia, New York and grew up in Norfolk, Virginia.[1] He joined the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service as a cadet at the Revenue Cutter Service School of Instruction on April 28, 1910.[2]

Elmer Stone was a United States Coast Guard aviation pioneer; in early 1915 Stone and another officer Norman B. Hall, were the first to suggest that the Coast Guard develop an aviation capability. With the encouragement of their commanding officer, Captain Benjamin M. Chiswell of the USRC Onondaga, Lieutenants Stone and Hall approached the Curtiss Flying School in Newport News, Virginia about using aircraft in air-sea rescue operations, and participated in experimental flights in a Curtiss Model F flying boat. During the summer of 1915, Stone and Hall performed scouting patrols for Onondaga, assisting in search missions that the cutter was assigned.[3] On March 28, 1916 he was assigned as a student aviator at the United States Navy flight facility in Pensacola, Florida.[4] The same year he also studied aeronautical engineering at the Curtiss factory. On April 10, 1917, Stone became the Coast Guard's first aviator upon graduating from flight training at Pensacola and was appointed as Coast Guard Aviator No. 1 and Naval Aviator No. 38. On October 12, 1917, Stone was assigned to the U.S. Navy Aeronautic Station at Rockaway, New York.[5]

In May 1919 First Lieutenant Elmer F. Stone was the pilot on the first successful transatlantic flight on NC-4 with Lieutenant Commander A. C. Read, USN, the mission commander and navigator. After the historic flight, he was awarded the British Air Force Cross by the British government (June 9, 1919), and received a promotion to the temporary rank of captain on 25 September 1919. He was awarded the Navy Cross and Congressional Medal of Achievement for "distinguished service in making the first successful trans-Atlantic flight" on November 11, 1920.

For the next six years he worked with the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics where 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. He continued to promote aviation in the U.S. Coast Guard during the 1920s, He collaborated with the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company on development of airborne "motor lifeboats" for the explicit purpose of lifesaving missions, and in this is one of the pioneers of modern air-sea rescue. He also commanded a former destroyer that was turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard and used in the enforcement of Prohibition.

After a tour at sea, Stone became the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Aviation Unit at Cape May, New Jersey, where he continued to develop his skill at making open-ocean landings. On April 5, 1933, Stone put his open-ocean landing skills to the test 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.[6] On December 20, 1934, he broke the world seaplane speed record, 191 miles per hour over a 3 kilometer test course.

Commander Stones' 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 May 20, 1936 in San Diego, California, while inspecting a new aircraft and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[1]


Commander Elmer "Archie" Stone was inducted into the United States Naval Aviation Hall of Honor on May 5, 1983, and is also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Hall of Fame. 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.


  1. ^ a b c "E. F. Stone, 49, Dies. Made NC-4 Flight. Co-pilot Of The Navy Plane That Blazed Air Route Over Atlantic In 1919. Decorated By Congress. Became Commander Of Coast Guard In East. Later Sent To San Diego Air Base". New York Times. May 21, 1936. 
  2. ^ Noble, p 69
  3. ^ Evans, p 188
  4. ^ Register of the officers, vessels and stations of the United States Coast Guard, July 1, 1916, p 18
  5. ^ Register of the officers, vessels and stations of the United States Coast Guard, January 1, 1918, p 22
  6. ^ Beard, p 111
References used
  • Register of the officers, vessels and stations of the United States Coast Guard, July 1, 1916. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1916. 
  • Register of the officers, vessels and stations of the United States Coast Guard, January 1, 1918. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1918. 
  • Beard, Barrett Thomas (1996). Wonderful Flying Machines: A History of U.S. Coast Guard Helicopters. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-086-1. 
  • Evans, Stephen H. (1949). The United States Coast Guard 1790–1915: A Definitive History. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. 
  • Noble, Dennis L. (1990). Historical Register U.S. Revenue Cutter Service Officers, 1790–1914. Coast Guard Historian's Office, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC. 
  • Thiesen, Ph.D., William H. (April 2010). "Elmer F. Stone '13 and the Pioneering Role of Coast Guard Academy Graduates in Early Naval and Coast Guard Aviation" (pdf). USCG.mil. The Foundation for Coast Guard History. Retrieved 2016-05-11. 

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