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AFP
June 14, 2019

The first transatlantic flight 100 years ago!

Top Story

AFP
June 14, 2019

PARIS: When two British pilots steered a biplane across the vast Atlantic 100 years ago, battling frozen sleet and thick fog for more than 16 hours, they were making aviation history.

With their harrowing 3,000-kilometre crossing, Captain John Alcock and navigator Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown completed the world’s first non-stop transatlantic flight. Here is a look back at their groundbreaking journey between Newfoundland in Canada and Ireland on June 14-15, 1919.

The North Atlantic had already been conquered by air when Alcock and Brown climbed into their modified World War I bomber on June 14 -- but never in one go. Just weeks earlier three US Navy Curtiss flying boats had set out from New York state to make the trip with stopovers in Newfoundland, the Azores, Portugal and England.

Only one completed the journey, covering 6,000 kilometres in three weeks. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper had laid down the challenge for a non-stop crossing by offering 10,000 pounds for a single flight from North America to the British Isles in under three days.

Just weeks ahead of the Alcock-Brown bid, two other teams had made an attempt: the first plane ditched into the ocean and was rescued; the second crashed on takeoff. Alcock, aged 26, and Brown, 32, took off in the early afternoon from St John’s, one of the easternmost points of North America.

Their Vickers Vimy biplane was weighed down by 4,000 litres of fuel and only just able to clear the trees, lurching in gusts of wind. "Several times I held my breath, from fear that our undercarriage would hit a roof or a tree-top," Brown recalled in "Flying the Atlantic in Sixteen Hours" (1920). Once airborne, the Royal Air Force aviators turned eastwards for Ireland, heading into the night.

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