AKA Eric LaMar Ellington & "Polly"
Eric Ellington
Lt. Eric Lamar Ellington
from Houston Airport System
Courtesy of Craig Roberts
Facility Safety Officer
from Bob Davis, 9-7-07
Two Army Aeronauts Fall
Lieuts. Kelly and Ellington Are Killed at San Diego, Making Death List For Army and Navy Fifteen
In Aviation Accidents of All Kinds the World Over 368 Persons Have Been Killed Since 1908.

San Diego, Cal., Nov. 24.- Two intrepid navigators of the air, Lieutenants Hugh M. Kelly and Eric L. Ellington, U. S. A., attached to the First aero corps, were instantly killed at the North island army school when they fell from an altitude of eighty or more feet in a dual control biplane.

Within eight minutes after Lieutenant Ellington had waved his hand as a signal to the mechanicians to let go the biplane, the army aviator and his brother officer were dead.

Lieutenant Ellington, a skilful pilot, occupied the instructor's seat in the biplane with Lieutenant Kelly at his side. The latter, a comparative novice in the art of flying, was receiving instructions in the handling of the control levers. Owing to the general arrangement of the controlling wires, Lieutenant Ellington would be at all times absolute master of the machine.

The engine, one of six cylinders and 60-horsepower, was working perfectly and the two officers ascended to a height of 300 feet, circled and then began a volplane which was to have brought them back to the hangars. According to Captain Cowan, in command of the aviation post, the biplane glided at a normal angle for about 200 feet. Then the engine, which was throttled at the beginning of the volplane, was thrown open.

Whether at this instant the aeroplanists temporarily lost control of the machine, or the initial impetus of the revolving propeller when the biplane was at so low an altitude, caused the machine to tip forward, can only be conjectured. But the spectators of the flight say the biplane suddenly pitched forward, nose downward, and shot to the earth. The impact probably killed both men, but the motor made death sure by crushing them.

(Transcriber Pilot's note: The pushed propeller engine on today's pushed aircraft, like the Lake Amphibian, causes a nose down pitch when power is added. This is the opposite of the more common tractor propelled light aircraft that pitch up when power is added.)

Kelly was first lieutenant in the Twenty-sixth infantry, and Ellington first lieutenant in the Third cavalry, U. S. A.

Sketch of Lieut. Kelly.      Louisville, Ky., Nov. 24.- Lieutenant Hugh M. Kelly, killed in an aeroplane accident today was a native of Louisville. He had been commandant at the state university. He was a son of Colonel R. M. Kelly, who was well known for many years as editor of the Louisville Commercial.

Sketch of Ellington.      Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 24.- Lieut. Eric L. Ellington, killed today in San Diego, Ca., was the son of T. Ellington, formerly sheriff of Johnston county, and was born in Clayton, N.C., in 1887. He entered the naval academy at the age of sixteen and graduated in 1907, standing seventh in a class of three hundred. In 1909 he was transferred from the United States navy to the army by executive order of President Taft. He is survived by two brothers, Douglas Ellington, now in Paris, and Kenneth Ellington, of Johnston county.

Fifteen Fatalities In Army and Navy.      New York, Nov. 24.- With the deaths today of Lieutenants Kelly and Ellington today, the list of fatalities among aviators in the United States army and navy reaches fifteen, as follows:
Lieutenant Thomas H. Selfridge, signal corps, September 17, 1908, at Fort Myer, Va., in flight with Orville Wright; Selfridge instantly killed; Wright seriously injured.
Lieutenant George M. Kelly, San Antonio, Texas, May 10, 1911.
Lieutenant Leighton W. Hazelhurst, Jr., Seventh infantry, and A. Welsh, instructor army aviation school, College Park, Md., June 11, 1912.
Paul Peck, instructor army aviation school, Chicago, September 11, 1912.
Lieutenant Lewis C. Rockwell and Corporal Frank Scott, College Park, Md., September 28, 1912.
Lieutenant Rex Chandler, coast artillery corps, April 8, 1913, whose hydro-aeroplane plunged into San Diego bay.
Lieutenant Joseph P. Park, May 10, 1913, Olive, Ca.
Ensign William D. Billingsley, June 20, 1913. Killed by fall into Chesapeake bay.
Lieutenant Loren H. Call, July 8th, 1913, near Texas City, Texas.
Lieutenant Moss H. Love, signal corps, San Diego, Cal., September 4th, 1913.
Second Lieutenant C. Perry Rich, Philippine scouts, killed by fall of hydro-aeroplane into Manila bay, November 14, 1913.
Lieutenants Kelly and Ellington, San Diego, Cal., November 24, 1913.

Seven Have Been Killed This Year     Washington, Nov. 24.- The deaths of Lieutenants Ellington and Kelly today makes a total of fifteen fatalities in the government service, fourteen in the army and one in the navy, since experiments first began at Fort Myer in 1908. Seven have met death this year.

In aviation accidents of all kinds the world over, 368 persons have met death, this year's numbering 197.

Both aviators were single. Lieutenant Ellington was born in North Carolina in 1889, and his next of kin is a brother, J. O. Ellington, of Raleigh. He was detailed to the aviation service in September 1912, and has seen service on aviation fields at Marblehead, Mass., College Park, Md., Palm Beach, Fla., and Texas City. He went to San Diego last June.

Lieutenant Kelly, a Kentuckian, was detailed to the aeronautics division last March, and has been at Texas City and San Diego.

The Daily Journal and Tribune, Knoxville, Tennessee, November 25, 1913

Eric Ellington
from THE SKYLANDER, Friday, March 14, 1969, Page 5
Courtesy of Kathryn Black Morrow, 9-14-07

     Ellington Air Force Base at Houston, Tex., was named for a pioneer in aviation, 2nd Lt. Eric LaMar Ellington.
     The lieutenant, whose nickname was "Polly", was born to Jesse Thompson Ellington and his second wife, Sallie Williamson Ellington on May 15, 1889 in Clayton, N. C.
     Mrs. Ellington died when her son was still a small boy. He then went to live with his oldest half-brother, John O. Ellington, who made his home first in Smithfield and later in Fayetteville, N. C.
     Young Ellington attended grammar and high school in Smithfield and was graduated from the latter in 1905. During the summer of that year he was admitted to the U. S. Naval Academy as midshipman. During his years at the academy, Ellington completed cruises on the CLEVELAND and the HARTFORD. In June 1909, he was graduated third in his class and received a bachelor of science degree. He completed his two years of prescribed sea duty and was then commissioned an Ensign in the U. S. Navy on June 5, 1911.
     Ellington served as an Ensign untill Nov. 7, 1911, when he resigned form the Navy to accept a commission in the U. S. Army as a second lietenant. Lieutenant Ellington served at Fort Sam Houston, Tex., until December 1912.
     He moved to College Park, Md., where he served on the Aeronautical division of the Signal Corps until Feb. 3, 1913. Ellington qualified as a military aviator on Aug. 11, 1913 and served as such until he was killed in an airplane accident at San Diego, Calif., on Nov. 24, 1913 while on flight duty.
     Lt. Ellington was buried with military honors in the family plot in Clayton, N. C., a village founded by his grandfather.
     Originally designated "Ellington Field," the base was officially opened on Nov. 1, 1917.
     If you search for "Eric L. Ellington", using the Google search engine, (9-14-07), you will find about 47 links. Two of them are especially helpful.
Eric L. Ellington
Ellington Field, Houston Texas named in his honor
Obituary from newpaper article in News and Observer, 1913
     This website offers a very complete and comprehensive history of his life and career. Here is a very brief extract from the article:
"The accident that took the life of Lieutenant Ellington also ended fatally for First Lieutenant Hugh M. Kelly, Twenty-Sixth Infantry. The cause has never been explained. Within eight minutes after Ellington had waved his hand as a signal to the merchanicians to let go the biplane the big machine was a wreck, and the crushed bodies of the aviator and his student companion were lifted from beneath the runs of the motor."
     The article includes such subsections as: "How Ellington Died," "The Son of a Soldier," "Usual Military Honors," "Played War Games at Nine" and "Letter from Breckinridge."
     The clipping appears to have been shared by Calvin Smith Ellington with Georgia Whitney, who put it online for us in 1998. It offers a priceless glimpse into the life of this pioneer aviator. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

Aviation Pioneer: Clayton's Lt. Eric Ellington
among heroes in new exhibit

August 20, 2003
     This is another very important biography of Ellington which is found on the Clayton News Star website. The following extract will serve to introduce the article:
"Clayton’s own Lt. Eric L. Ellington is a part of the the North Carolina Museum of History’s exhibit “Pioneers of Aviation,” which runs through May 2005.

The exhibit honors those brave men and women from North Carolina who contributed to the development of modern air flight – from Kitty Hawk to the space program.

It is one of many North Carolina exhibits honoring the first century of flight, heralded by Wilber and Orville Wright’s historic flight over Kitty Hawk in 1903.

Prominent among those being exhibited is Ellington, who died in a military plane accident only 10 years after man took to the skies.

Ellington was a member of the U.S. Aero Squadron, the predecessor to the Air Force. He was killed in a plane crash in San Diego on Nov. 24, 1913. "

     To read the rest of this very informative article, you can access it by clicking on the title above.

     This page was recommended to me by Craig Roberts, the Facility Safety Officer at the Houston AASF. On the Houston Airport Systems website is offered a very nice revue of the development of Ellington field, named after Lt. Eric L. Ellington. It is from this page that the portrait which is found at the top of the page has been taken. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

First Consignment
First Consignment at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas
Standing, left to right, Walter Lees, Harvey, Torrey Webb, Robertson, Smythe, Snow, Al Johnson
Seated, left to right, Roger Jannus, Beatjer, Machel, Logan T. McMenemy
     The photograph above comes from the collection of my father-in-law, Walter E. Lees, and shows him as one of the two instructors of the first class at Ellington Field. You can read the whole story by clicking on the title above.

Defender of America's Gulf Coast


Kathryn Black Morrow

Product Details
Hard: 6"x9", with jacket, 182 pages
List Price: $36.00 + $3.00 S&H
ISBN: 97809796870-06
Order from: Morrow House Publishing
PO BOX 58585
Houston, TX 77258

Of the newest book from


Defender of America's Gulf Coast
A History of Ellington Field, Texas 1917-2007

By local author and historian,
Kathryn Black Morrow

This book is the culmination of four years of research and interviewing, and it will appeal to anyone who has an interest in Aviation history, Texas history, military history, or local history. This book would make a great gift for anyone who has a relative who worked or served at Ellington Field or Ellington Air Force Base from World War I and World War II to today. Includes the pioneers of flight and military aviation from World War I, and includes the men and women (WACS, WAFS, Plane Janes, AAFWFTDs or nurses), and African American soldiers of the 79th Aviation Squadron and Medical Detachment during World War II. Author Morrow has covered the history of the Space program at Ellington, the transition to the Houston Airport System, modern commercial use and the future of the field as a “Joint Forces” Base for the military.

This is a great VIP gift for business clients, for Christmas,
or any time a gift is needed.
Multiple orders of five or more will receive a discount.
Price $36.00, includes sales tax. Shipping Fee is an additional $3.00
Signed copies are available by request.

For more information, go to the website at, or contact the author at Morrow House Publishing, PO Box 58485, Houston, TX 77258. Ph:281-462-4819

Kathryn Morrow Research

     Kathryn is a working historian and researcher. Since 2006, she has published the Guide to the Texas Slave Trade Series, 1818-1886, based on original documents at Texas Southern University, Southeast Texas Colored Voter Registration Lists, 1867-1869, Black Soldiers in Texas During World War II; the 79th Aviation Squadron, Ellington Field, Texas, and other conference papers, short stories, and poems..
     Kathryn is a native Texan, born in the Garden Oaks subdivision in Houston. She was the youngest child of an Air Force officer who served at Ellington Field in the early 1950's. She began her career as a professional historical and genealogical researcher at the North Carolina Department of Archives and History in Raleigh, North Carolina and as a teacher of family history and research methods at the Coastal Carolina Community College. She now has forty years of experience in academic research, family research and historical documentation.
     Kathryn and her husband Michael live in Clear Lake, and have four children and nine grandchildren scattered across the United States.
     You can visit her newly established website, where you can learn of the many services she offers, by clicking on the title above. Of special interest is the "Texas History" page on which you will find a complete description of the book cited above, as well as order copies of her books. (9-15-07)

" Ellington was killed in a plane crash in San Diego on Nov. 24, 1913. "


Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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