British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919.They flew a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The Secretary of State for Air, Winston Churchill, presented them with the Daily Mail prize for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by aeroplane in "less than 72 consecutive hours". A small amount of mail was carried on the flight, making it the first transatlantic airmail flight. The two aviators were awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) a week later by King George V at Windsor Castle.
A transatlantic flight is the flight of an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe, Africa, or the Middle East to North America, Central America, or South America, or vice versa. Such flights have been made by fixed-wing aircraft, airships, balloons, and other aircraft.
The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft developed and manufactured by Vickers Limited. Developed during the latter stages of the First World War to equip the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the Vimy was designed by Reginald Kirshaw "Rex" Pierson, Vickers' chief designer.
St. John's is the capital and largest city of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the large Canadian island, Newfoundland. The city spans 446.04 square kilometres (172.22 sq mi) and is North America's easternmost city.
John Alcock was born in 1892 in Basford House on Seymour Grove, Firswood, Manchester, England. Known to his family and friends as "Jack", he first became interested in flying at the age of seventeen and gained his pilot's licence in November 1912. Alcock was a regular competitor in aircraft competitions at Hendon in 1913–14. He became a military pilot during the First World War and was taken prisoner in Turkey after the engines on his Handley Page bomber failed over the Gulf of Xeros.After the war, Alcock wanted to continue his flying career and took up the challenge of attempting to be the first to fly directly across the Atlantic.
Firswood is an area of Stretford in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester, England.
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 2.8 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Arthur Whitten Brown was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1886 to American parents, and shortly afterwards the family moved to Manchester. Known to his family and friends as "Teddie", he began his career in engineering before the outbreak of the First World War. Brown also became a prisoner of war, after being shot down over Germany. Once released and back in Britain, Brown continued to develop his aerial navigation skills.
Not to be confused with Arthur Roy Brown, Canadian World War I RAF fighter ace credited with shooting down Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.
Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
In April 1913 the London newspaper the Daily Mail offered a prize of £10,000to
Between 1906 and 1930, the Daily Mail newspaper, initially on the initiative of its proprietor, Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, awarded numerous prizes for achievements in aviation. The newspaper would stipulate the amount of a prize for the first aviators to perform a particular task in aviation, or to the winner of an aviation race or event. The most famous prizes were the £1,000 for the first cross-channel flight awarded to Louis Blériot in 1909 and the £10,000 given in 1919 to Alcock and Brown for the first non-stop transatlantic flight between North America and Ireland.
|“||the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours.||”|
The competition was suspended with the outbreak of war in 1914 but reopened after Armistice was declared in 1918.
During his imprisonment Alcock had resolved to fly the Atlantic one day, and after the war he approached the Vickers engineering and aviation firm at Weybridge, who had considered entering their Vickers Vimy IV twin-engined bomber in the competition but had not yet found a pilot. Alcock's enthusiasm impressed the Vickers' team and he was appointed as their pilot. Work began on converting the Vimy for the long flight, replacing the bomb racks with extra petrol tanks.Shortly afterwards Brown, who was unemployed, approached Vickers seeking a post and his knowledge of long distance navigation persuaded them to take him on as Alcock's navigator.
Weybridge is a town by the River Wey in the Elmbridge district of Surrey. It is bounded to the north by the River Thames at the mouth of the Wey, from which it gets its name. It is an outlying suburban town within the Greater London Urban Area, situated 7 miles northeast of Woking and 16 miles southwest of central London. Real estate prices are well above the national average: as of 2008, six of the ten most expensive streets in South East England were in Weybridge.
Several teams had entered the competition and when Alcock and Brown arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland, the Handley Page team were in the final stages of testing their aircraft for the flight, but their leader, Admiral Mark Kerr, was determined not to take off until the plane was in perfect condition. The Vickers team quickly assembled their plane and at around 1:45 p.m. on 14 June, whilst the Handley Page team were conducting yet another test, the Vickers plane took off from Lester's Field. Alcock and Brown flew the modified Vickers Vimy, powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle 360 hp engines which were supported by an on-site Rolls Royce team led by engineer Eric Platford.
It was not an easy flight. The overloaded aircraft had difficulty taking off the rough field and only barely missed the tops of the trees.At 17:20 the wind-driven electrical generator failed, depriving them of radio contact, their intercom and heating. An exhaust pipe burst shortly afterwards, causing a frightening noise which made conversation impossible without the failed intercom.
At 5.00pm they had to fly through thick fog.This was serious because it prevented Brown from being able to navigate using his sextant. Blind flying in fog or cloud should only be undertaken with gyroscopic instruments, which they did not have, and Alcock twice lost control of the aircraft and nearly hit the sea after a spiral dive. Alcock also had to deal with a broken trim control that made the plane become very nose-heavy as fuel was consumed.
At 12:15am Brown got a glimpse of the stars and could use his sextant, and found that they were on course.Their electric heating suits had failed, making them very cold in the open cockpit.
Then at 3:00am they flew into a large snowstorm.They were drenched by rain, their instruments iced up, and the plane was in danger of icing and becoming unflyable. The carburettors also iced up; it has been said that Brown had to climb out onto the wings to clear the engines, although he made no mention of that.
They made landfall in County Galway, crash-landing a.m. on 15 June 1919, not far from their intended landing place, after less than sixteen hours' flying time. The aircraft was damaged upon arrival because of an attempt to land on what appeared from the air to be a suitable green field, but which turned out to be Derrygilmlagh Bog, near Clifden in County Galway in Ireland, but neither of the airmen was hurt. Brown said that if the weather had been good they could have pressed on to London.at 8:40
Their altitude varied between sea level and 12,000 ft (3,700 m). They took off with 865 imperial gallons (3,900 L) of fuel. They had spent around fourteen-and-a-half hours[ citation needed ] over the North Atlantic crossing the coast at 4:28 p.m., having flown 1,890 miles (3,040 km) in 15 hours 57 minutes at an average speed of 115 mph (185 km/h). Their first interview was given to Tom 'Cork' Kenny of The Connacht Tribune .
Alcock and Brown were treated as heroes on the completion of their flight.In addition to the Daily Mail award of £10,000, the crew received 2,000 guineas (£2,100) from the Ardath Tobacco Company and £1,000 from Lawrence R. Phillips for being the first British subjects to fly the Atlantic Ocean. Both men were knighted a few days later by King George V.
Alcock and Brown flew to Manchester on 17 July 1919, where they were given a civic reception by the Lord Mayor and Corporation, and awards to mark their achievement.
Alcock was killed on 18 December 1919 when he crashed near Rouen whilst flying the new Vickers Viking amphibian to the Paris Airshow. Brown died on 4 October 1948.
Two memorials commemorating the flight are sited near the landing spot in County Galway, Ireland. The first is an isolated cairn four kilometres south of Clifden on the site of Marconi's first transatlantic wireless station from which the aviators transmitted their success to London, and around 500 metres from the spot where they landed. In addition there is a sculpture of an aircraft's tail-fin on Errislannan Hill two kilometres north of their landing spot, dedicated on the fortieth anniversary of their landing, 15 June 1959.
Three monuments mark the flight's starting point in Newfoundland. One was erected by the Government of Canada in 1952 at the junction of Lemarchant Road and Patrick Street in St. John's,a second monument is located on Lemarchant Road, while the third was unveiled by Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Joseph Smallwood on Blackmarsh Road.
A memorial statue was erected at London Heathrow Airport in 1954 to celebrate their flight. There is also a monument at Manchester Airport, less than 8 miles from John Alcock's birthplace. Their aircraft (rebuilt by the Vickers Company) is located in the Science Museum in South Kensington, London.
The Royal Mail issued a 5d (approximately 2.1p in modern UK currency) stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight on 2 April 1969.
On 19 March 2017 an edition of the Antiques Roadshow was broadcast in the UK in which the granddaughter of Alcock's cousin presented a handwritten note which was carried by Alcock on the flight. The note, which was valued at £1000–£1200, read as follows:
Two weeks before Alcock and Brown's flight, the first transatlantic flight had been made by the NC-4, a United States Navy flying boat, commanded by Lt. Commander Albert Cushing Read, who flew from Naval Air Station Rockaway, New York to Plymouth with a crew of five, over 23 days, with six stops along the way. This flight was not eligible for the Daily Mail prize since it took more than 72 consecutive hours and also because more than one aircraft was used in the attempt.
A month after Alcock and Brown's achievement, British airship R34 made the first double crossing of the Atlantic, carrying 31 people (one a stowaway) and a cat;29 of this crew, plus two flight engineers and a different American observer, then flew back to Europe.
On 2–3 July 2005, American adventurer Steve Fossett and co-pilot Mark Rebholz recreated the flight in a replica of the Vickers Vimy aeroplane. They did not land in the bog near Clifden, but a few miles away on the Connemara golf course.
A replica Vimy, NX71MY, was built in Australia and the USA in 1994 for an American, Peter McMillan, who flew it from England to Australia with Australian Lang Kidby in 1994 to re-enact the first England-Australia flight by Ross & Keith Smith with Vimy G-EAOU in 1919. In 1999, Mark Rebholz and John LaNoue re-enacted the first flight from London to Cape Town with this same replica, and in late 2006 the aeroplane was donated to Brooklands Museum at Weybridge, Surrey. After making a special Alcock and Brown 90th anniversary return visit to Clifden in June 2009 (flown by John Dodd and Clive Edwards), and some final public flying displays at the Goodwood Revival that September, the Vimy made its final flight on 15 November 2009 from Dunsfold Park to Brooklands crewed by John Dodd (pilot), Clive Edwards and Peter McMillan. Retired from flying for the foreseeable future, it is now on public display in the Museum's Bellman hangar but will be maintained to full airworthy standards.
One of the propellers from the Vickers Vimy was given to Arthur Whitten Brown and hung for many years on the wall of his office in Swansea before he presented it to the RAF College Cranwell. It is believed to have been displayed in the RAF Careers Office in Holborn until 1990.It is believed to be in use today as a ceiling fan in Luigi Malone's Restaurant in Cork, Ireland.
The other propeller, serial number G1184.N6, was originally given to the Vickers Works Manager at Brooklands, Percy Maxwell Muller and displayed for many years suspended inside the transatlantic terminal (Terminal 3) at London's Heathrow Airport. In October 1990 it was donated by the BAA (via its former Chairman, Sir Peter Masefield) to Brooklands Museum, where it is now motorised and displayed as part of a full-size Vimy wall mural.
A small amount of mail, 196 letters and a parcel, was carried on Alcock and Brown's flight, the first time mail was carried by air across the ocean. The government of the Dominion of Newfoundland overprinted stamps for this carriage with the inscription "Transatlantic air post 1919".
Upon landing in Paris after his own record breaking flight in 1927, Charles Lindbergh told the crowd welcoming him that "Alcock and Brown showed me the way!"
To mark the original transatlantic crossing, on the 1 June 1979 two Royal Air Force McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR.2s – XV424 (of No. 56 Squadron) and (RAF Coningsby based) XV486, were sprayed in a special commemorative schemes.The scheme was designed by aviation artist Wilfred Hardy. As well as marking the anniversary of the crossing, the scheme also made reference to usage of Rolls-Royce engines in both aircraft: the Rolls-Royce Eagle in the Vimy and the Rolls-Royce Spey in the Phantom FGR.2, and on top of this it also marked the 30th anniversary of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
It was decided that XV424 would make the flight and that XV486 would serve as back up.On 19 June, XV424 departed from RAF St. Athan to CFB Goose Bay from where the crossing would be made. The crew chosen for the crossing were: Squadron Leader A. J. N. "Tony" Alcock (pilot and nephew of Sir John Alcock who made the original crossing) and Flight Lieutenant W. N. "Norman" Browne (navigator). For the journey the pair brought with them the original toy mascot 'Twinkletoes.'
On 21 June, XV424 took off from Goose Bay, Newfoundland and began the crossing to Ireland.Flying subsonically the entire time, the journey took 5 hours and 40 minutes, setting a new record. The Phantom was refuelled five times throughout the crossing, with that being taken care of by Handley-Page Victor K.2 tankers of No. 57 Squadron. XV424 today is preserved at the RAF Museum in Hendon, sporting colours of No. 56 (Fighter) Squadron, while XV486 was scrapped in 1993.
Transatlantic crossings are passages of passengers and cargo across the Atlantic Ocean between Europe or Africa and the Americas. The majority of passenger traffic is across the North Atlantic between Western Europe and North America. Centuries after the dwindling of sporadic Viking trade with Markland, a regular and lasting transatlantic trade route was established in 1566 with the Spanish West Indies fleets, following the Voyages of Christopher Columbus.
The year 1919 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.
The NC-4 was a Curtiss NC flying boat that was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, albeit not non-stop. The NC designation was derived from the collaborative efforts of the Navy (N) and Curtiss (C). The NC series flying boats were designed to meet wartime needs, and after the end of World War I they were sent overseas to validate the design concept.
Captain Sir John William "Jack" Alcock was a Royal Navy and later Royal Air Force officer who, with navigator Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, piloted the first non-stop transatlantic flight from St. John's, Newfoundland to Clifden, Connemara, Ireland. He died in a flying accident in France in 1919.
The Handley Page V/1500 was a British night-flying heavy bomber built by Handley Page towards the end of the First World War. It was a large four-engined biplane, which resembled a larger version of Handley Page's earlier O/100 and O/400 bombers, intended to bomb Berlin from East Anglian airfields. The end of the war stopped the V/1500 being used against Germany, but a single aircraft was used to carry out the first flight from England to India, and later carried out a bombing raid on Kabul during the Third Anglo-Afghan War. It was colloquially known within the fledgling Royal Air Force as the "Super Handley". The V/1500 which was shipped to Canada to attempt a transatlantic flight was flown in the USA beyond its flight to New York. In 1919 it crash-landed in a field at Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania. Photos appeared in the 20 February 1969 issue of the Bradford Journal newspaper.
Clifden is a coastal town in County Galway, Ireland, in the region of Connemara, located on the Owenglin River where it flows into Clifden Bay. As the largest town in the region, it is often referred to as "the Capital of Connemara". Frequented by tourists, Clifden is linked to Galway city by the N59.
The NC-4 Medal is a military decoration that was authorized by the United States Congress in 1929 to commemorate the 1919 trans-Atlantic crossing by the members of the NC-4 mission. Originally awarded as a non-wearable table medal, in 1935 a wearable version of the medal was subsequently authorized. A commemorative medal, the NC-4 Medal was a one-time award, and does not currently appear on U.S. Navy award precedence charts.
Sir Ross Macpherson Smith, was an Australian aviator. He and his brother, Sir Keith Macpherson Smith, were the first pilots to fly from England to Australia, in 1919.
The Felixstowe F.4 Fury, also known as the Porte Super-Baby, was a large British, five-engined triplane flying-boat designed by John Cyril Porte at the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe, inspired by the Wanamaker Triplane/Curtiss Model T. At the time the Fury was the largest seaplane in the world, the largest British aircraft, and the first aircraft controlled successfully by servo-assisted means.
Captain Walter George Raymond Hinchliffe, also known as Hinch was a distinguished Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force flying ace in World War I who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. A pioneering military and civilian flying career was cut short when he attempted a treacherous flight across the Atlantic Ocean with Elsie Mackay in a single engined Stinson Detroiter.
The Brooklands Museum is an air museum in Weybridge, Surrey, England, operated by the independent Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd as a charitable trust and a private limited company incorporated on 12 March 1987; its aim is to conserve, protect and interpret the unique heritage of the Brooklands site.
The Sopwith Atlantic was an experimental British long-range aircraft of 1919. It was a single-engined biplane that was designed and built to be the first aeroplane to cross the Atlantic Ocean non-stop. It took off on an attempt to cross the Atlantic from Newfoundland on 18 May 1919, but ditched during the attempt owing to an overheating engine.
The Boulton & Paul P.8 Atlantic was Boulton & Paul's attempt to adapt their well-performing Bourges bomber into an airliner. They hoped to gain publicity for it by winning the outstanding prize for the first non-stop Atlantic crossing but a first flight accident made them miss their opportunity. Two were built but none sold as airliners.
Flying Officer Leslie Hamilton, was a British First World War flying ace credited with six aerial victories. He disappeared while attempting the first non-stop east-west flight across the Atlantic Ocean. His Fokker F.VIIa, named St. Raphael, was last seen over the mid-Atlantic by oil tanker SS Josiah Macy.
Reginald Kirshaw "Rex" Pierson CBE was an English aircraft designer and chief designer at Vickers Limited later Vickers-Armstrongs Aircraft Ltd. He was responsible for the Vickers Vimy, a heavy bomber designed during World War 1 and the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic non-stop. He was the chief designer of the Vickers Wellington bomber of World War 2.
The Daily Mail Trans-Atlantic Air Race was a race between London, UK and New York City, USA to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first trans-atlantic crossing by John Alcock and Arthur Brown.
Joyce Green, at Long Reach, near Dartford was one of the first Royal Flying Corps (RFC) airfields. It was established in 1911 by Vickers Limited who used it as an airfield and testing ground. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the RFC followed and established a base. Subject to frequent flooding and a reputation as being unsuitable and too dangerous for training, it was eventually replaced by a more suitable site at RAF Biggin Hill.
Jack Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown became the first men to cross the Atlantic by air in June 1919, flying in a Vickers Vimy biplane, its bomb bays filled with extra fuel. The dashing aviators, who took their pet kittens, Twinkletoes and Lucky Jim, with them, made the crossing from Newfoundland to County Galway in 16 hours and 27 minutes.
London gave Captain Alcock and Lieutenant Brown a wonderful welcome tonight. ...