William Billingsley

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This article is about the American aviator. For the English artist, see William Billingsley (artist).
William Devotie Billingsley
William d billingsley guantanamo 1913.jpg
William Devotie Billingsley (24 April 1887 - 20 June 1913) was an early aviator in the United States Navy.
Born (1887-04-24)April 24, 1887
Winona, Mississippi
Died June 20, 1913(1913-06-20) (aged 26)
Chesapeake Bay
Place of burial United States Naval Academy Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1905-1913
Rank Ensign


Born in Winona, Mississippi, William Billingsley graduated from the Naval Academy in 1909. On December 2, 1912, he reported for duty at the Aviation Camp, Annapolis, MD and was assigned to the Navy-Wright B-2 for instruction.

Billingsley, designated as Naval Aviator No. 9, was the first naval aviator killed in an airplane crash. On June 20, 1913, while piloting the B-2 at 1,600 feet over water near Annapolis, Maryland, he was thrown from the plane and fell to his death. Admiral John Henry Towers, also unseated in the turbulence, was nearly killed in the same accident as he clung to the plane and fell with it into the water.


The Clemson-class destroyer USS Billingsley (DD-293) was named in his honor.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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