In September 1923, Brigadier General Mitchell provided a chilling view of the effectiveness of aerial bombardment on surface vessels to skeptical government and military observers. Taking off from his temporary Hatteras Village airfield, Mitchell rendezvoused with Martin Bombers from Langley Field, Virginia. Equipped with newly developed bombsights and supercharged engines, the bombers quickly sank the obsolete battleships "Virginia" and "New Jersey" anchored just 20 miles off the Hatteras Island coast.Brigadier General "Billy" Mitchell, 1933
Responding to General Mitchell's urgent call for construction of a temporary airfield, local Hatterasmen used shovels, hoes, and horsedrawn carts alongside a tractor pulling a weighted pallet, to fill holes, tidal pools, and marshy areas and pack level a landing strip. Their quick work helped to ensure the success of Mitchell's demonstration.
Despite the effectiveness of this, and other demonstrations, it would be many years before Mitchell's far-reaching ideas on air power were adopted. Mitchell was posthumously honored in 1946 when he was awarded a special medal of honor "in recognition of his outstanding pioneer service and foresight in the field of America's military aviation."
"My children in their lifetime will see aeronautics become the greatest and principal means of national defense and rapid transportation all over the world and possibly beyond our world into interstellar space."