Kenneth Whiting training at the Wright Company of Dayton, Ohio, 1914.
Kenneth Whiting training at the Wright Company of Dayton, Ohio, 1914.

Guide to the Kenneth Whiting Papers, 1914-1943

MS 294

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: David D'Onofrio

February 2009

Descriptive Summary

The Kenneth Whiting Papers were donated to the Special Collections & Archives Department by Edna Whiting Nisewaner. Accession Nos. 93-71 and 97-19.
4.75 linear inches.
Access to the Kenneth Whiting Papers is unrestricted.
The Kenneth Whiting Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Kenneth Whiting Papers, MS 294
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Chronology

1881 Born July 22 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
1901 Appointed to the United States Naval Academy from New York.
1905 On January 30, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
After graduation, is attached to U.S.S. West Virginia (Armored Cruiser No. 5).
1907 On January 31, is commissioned Ensign.
In June, is detached from West Virginia and transferred to U.S.S. Concord (PG-3) of the Asiatic Station.
1908 In May, is transferred to U.S.S. Supply (schooner-rigged iron steamer).
In August, is reattached to U.S.S. Concord.
In October, is detached from U.S.S. Concord and transferred to U.S.S. Shark (Submarine No. 8) for fitting out duty at the Naval Station in Cavite, Philippines.
On November 20, assumes command of U.S.S. Porpoise (Submarine No. 7). While aboard Porpoise, demonstrates the ability to escape a submarine through its torpedo tubes.
1910 In September, is detached from U.S.S. Porpoise and assumes command of U.S.S. Tarpon (Submarine No. 14), operating in the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet.
1911 In January, reports to Newport News Shipbuilding Company to fit out U.S.S. Seal (Submarine No. 191/2).
1912 On October 28, assumes command of U.S.S. G-1 (submarine).
1914 On June 29, reports to the Wright Company of Dayton, Ohio for flight training with Orville Wright.
On September 6, is designated Naval Aviator Number 16.
Becomes Officer in Charge of the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, Florida.
1916 In November, is transferred to U.S.S. Washington (Armored Cruiser Number 11, renamed Seattle on December 1, 1916), and given command of a unit of seaplanes.
1917 In May, is transferred to U.S.S. Neptune (collier).
In June, travels to France to instruct French pilots.
1918 On June 1, assumes command of United States Naval Air Station Number 14 and 15 in Killingholme, England.
1919 In February, is assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations' Office of Naval Aviation, Washington, DC.
1921 On September 1, transfers to the newly established Bureau of Aeronautics.
1922 On March 20, joins U.S.S. Langley (CV-1) as Executive Officer.
1924 In July, reports back to the Bureau of Aeronautics, serving first as Assistant Chief of the Bureau, and later as Head of the Aircraft Carriers Division.
1926 In September, is ordered to the Brown-Boveri Electric Company in Camden, New Jersey, overseeing the construction of U.S.S. Saratoga (CV-3).
1927 On November 16, reports as Saratoga's Executive Officer, serving in that capacity until May 1929.
1929 On July 1, is promoted to Captain.
In September, joins the staff of Commander Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, as Chief of Staff and Aide.
1930 In August, assumes command of the Naval Air Station, Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1932 In June, is detached from the Naval Air Station at Hampton Roads for instruction at the Naval War College and Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island.
1933 On June 15, assumes command of U.S.S. Langley.
In December, is relieved of command of U.S.S. Langley to fit out U.S.S. Ranger (CV-4) at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.
1934 Is detached from U.S.S. Ranger to help develop plans for U.S. Ships Yorktown (CV-5) and Enterprise (CV-6).
In June, assumes command of U.S.S. Saratoga.
1935 In July, is detached from U.S.S. Saratoga to become Command Aircraft Squadrons, and attending craft, with additional duty as commander of the Fleet Air Base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
1937 In September, assumes command of Patrol Wing 2, serving in that capacity until June 3, 1938.
1939 On July 14, reports for duty as General Inspector of Naval Aircraft, Eastern Division, Third Naval District (New York, New York).
1940 On June 30, is transferred to the Retired List, but continues to serve as General Inspector of Naval Aircraft.
1943 In February, assumes command of the Naval Air Station, New York, New York, also serving as District Aviation Officer, Third Naval District.
On April 24, dies at the Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

Scope and Content Note

The Kenneth Whiting Papers, comprising 4.75 linear inches of documentation, span Whiting's U.S. Navy career, covering the years 1914 to 1943. The papers document Whiting's development as an aviator and his pioneering role in the development of naval aviation and the aircraft carrier force.

The papers consist of photocopies of incoming and outgoing letters, orders, order compliance reports, flight records, biographical materials, news clippings, commendations, certificates, court and investigation proceedings, identification, a U.S. House of Representatives Bill, and a will.

The Kenneth Whiting Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The bulk of the collection consists of official correspondence. Specific topics covered within the correspondence include the general organization of the aeronautic service; organizationof the Naval Air Station at Pensacola; Whiting's licensure as a pilot; engine specifications; seaplane development; arresting gear development; French pilot training; the use of airplanes as bombers during the First World War; submarine based aircraft tests; usage of aircraft carriers as flag ships; preparations for Amelia Earhart's attempted circumnavigation; and Whiting's resume, qualifications, and retirement. Also among the official correspondence are letters and attachments discussing chaplains in the Navy and the conviction of John Hughes Curtis in connection with the Lindbergh kidnapping. Notable correspondents in both the official and unofficial correspondence include Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Admiral William A. Moffett. The remainder of the collection is composed primarily of various other official records, such as reports, orders, court of inquiry proceedings, commendations, certificates of identification and licensure, a will, and legislation. Topics covered by these records include flight tests, the application of aircraft to railroads, accident investigations, the history of naval aviation, and the founding of a separate Air Corps. Also included in the collection are several items pertaining to Whiting's death and funeral, and the launching of U.S.S. Kenneth Whiting (AV-14).

In addition to the professional history and personal affiliations of Kenneth Whiting, research interests served by the Whiting Papers include the early history of aviation, specifically United States Naval aviation, the development of aircraft carrier based aerial operations, and Allied aerial operations during World War I.

Related Collections

Photographs of Kenneth Whiting are located in the Special Collections Transitional Picture File and Oversize Transitional Picture File, Special Collections & Archives Department, Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Appointment - U.S. Naval Aeronautic Station Board of Examiners, April 1915
2 Annual Report on Aeronautics, January 1916
3 Bill - Creation of United States Air Corp (H.R. 8533), January 1926
4 Biographical Material, 1943 and undated

Includes obituaries, a eulogy, other material relating to Whiting's death and funeral, and a brief memoir by G.S. Gillespie.

5 Certificate of Identification, April 1918
6 Commendations, 1919-1920
Includes Ordre National de la Legion D'Honneur.
7 Correspondence (Official), 1914

Includes discussions of the organization of U.S. Navy Aeronautic Service and Aeronautic Station (September), engine horsepower (10/8-10/16), an Army airplane competition (10/27), experiments with catapults (11/21 - 12/18), and Whiting's request to the Aero Club of America to be licensed as a seaplane pilot (10/24).

8 Correspondence (Official), January - April, 1915

Includes discussions of AH-9 flight tests (1/7 and 1/21), military/civilian contractor confidentiality (1/12), monetary needs of the station (1/13-1/20), pontoon tests (2/5-2/23), report of an AH-2 accident (3/19), and seaplane records kept by the Aero Club of America (April 29).

9 Correspondence (Official), June - December 1915

Includes discussions of sea plane experiments with Orville Wright (6/3), Whiting's Aero Club Expert Certificate (6/24), types of aircraft required by the Navy (7/1), requirements for school aircraft (8/17-9/25), trouble with Curtiss motors (9/29), bomb tests (10/8), and record setting flights by R.C. Saufley (11/27, 12/6 and 12/30).

10 Correspondence (Official), 1916

Includes discussions of aircraft engine design and performance (2/2, 2/16 and 2/29) propeller tips (8/10), British seaplane design (9/17), and airplane engagements over Germany and U.S. unwillingness to join the war effort (6/28, 9/9).

11 Correspondence (Official), 1917

Includes discussions of landing seaplanes on ships (3/16), training French pilots, including related certificates and visas (5/12), and a memoranda entitled "Operations with Large Americas and Towing Lighters" regarding bomb attacks on German ports in the North Sea using seaplanes (12/18).

12 Correspondence (Official), 1919

From Captain N.E. Irwin to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding Whiting's foreign service at Killingholme, UK.

13 Correspondence (Official), 1925

Discussions of the organization of aircraft tender U.S.S. Wright (2/7, 2/27, 10/24 and 12/17), the use of an aircraft carrier as flagship (6/28, 8/28) and Billy Mitchell and the promotion of naval aviation (2/3).

14 Correspondence (Official), 1926

Discussions of Eligibility for Promotion of V.C. Griffin (March-April), John B. Chevalier's objection to a separate air service (May), preparations aboard U.S.S. Saratoga (July), and Submarine Based Aviation Tests (September).

15 Correspondence (Official), 1930

Discussion of chaplains in the Navy, including a report to the Archbishop of New York.

16 Correspondence (Official), 1931

History of the Experimental Division.

17 Correspondence (Official), 1932

Includes discussions of the John Hughes Curtis Case (Lindbergh Kidnapping, May-June), arresting gear development (November), and an order of the Virginia State Corporation Commission regarding the Norfolk Airport, Incorporated (February).

18 Correspondence (Official), 1935

Discussion of patrol plane development.

19 Correspondence (Official), 1936

Discussion of shore facility shortages.

20 Correspondence (Official), 1937

Discussion of preparations for Amelia Earhart's first attempt at a circumnavigation flight.

21 Correspondence (Official), 1939-1940

Includes discussions of Whiting's resume (November 1939), physical examinations (December 1939-January 1940), and Whiting's retirement (January-June 1940).

22 Correspondence (Personal), 1914-1932 and undated

Correspondents include Mrs. Orville Wright, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh, as well as Whiting's wife and mother.

23 Correspondence (Personal) - William A. Moffett, 1929
24 [Diary Entry], ca. 1918

Consists of survey of equipment at U.S. Naval Air Station, Killingholme, UK.

25 Flight Records, 1916-1917
26 Hydraeroplane Pilot's Certificate, December 1914
27 Invitation - Henry C. Mustin Field Dedication, September 1926
28 Naval [Air] Station Index, ca. 1926

Includes list of supplies and amenities.

29 News Clippings, October 1914
From The Aeroplane regarding British use of Wright Brothers patents.
30 News Clippings, December 1943

Launch of seaplane tender U.S.S. Kenneth Whiting.

31 Order Compliance Reports, 1914-1937
32 Orders, 1914-1939
33 Photograph - Conference on Limitation of Armament: Committee on Aircraft, ca. 1922
34 Record of Proceedings - Investigation of AH-9 Accident and Death of Ensign M.L. Stolz, May 1915
35 Report - An Application of Aircraft to Railroads, March 1922
36 Report - Distance and Altitude Flight Tests, August 1914
37 Slide Presentation Text - History of Naval Aviation, ca. 1926
38 Statement of Major General Hanson E. Ely - Air Service Improvement, October 1925
39 Statements of Account, 1916
40 Will, February 1936