First non-stop fixed-wing flight across the Atlantic

I was just reading about the first transatlantic flights on wiki

Alcock and Brown are credited with the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919, when they flew from Newfoundland to Ireland. I think I’d be right in saying that this achievement has long been in the shadow of Lindberg’s 1927 flight. I always thought that one reason for this could be that A&B flew from an island to an island, and some would think this somehow not the complete thing i.e. not from America mainland to Europe mainland.

But I noticed that Lindberg didn’t do this either. He took off from Long Island. This didn’t make the journey any easier of course, but still it’s not quite mainland America.

So would this make the crossing by Dieudonne Costes and Joseph le Brix in 1927 from Senegal to Brazil the first “true” non-stop fixed wing mainland-mainland crossing of the Atlantic??

I find the picture of their landing a bit humorous. But then “Any landing that you can walk away from…”

IIRC they thought they were landing in a nice, clear pasture, but found out it was actually more like a bog.

Long Island is an integral part of America. “Newfoundland? Where’s that?”

Plus I think Ireland might seem a bit like basing your claim on a technicality, rather than really succeeding.

Nobody knew Alcock and Brown were coming, so there was no huge crowd to greet them in Ireland. Plus, they crashed in a field in the middle of nowhere. They were treated as heroes in the UK but don’t seem to have registered that much elsewhere. It’s important to keep in mind that Europe was just emerging from the doldrums of post-WWI insolvency.

By contrast, Lindbergh was just one of several people preparing to fly from Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget to claim the Orteig Prize, and the other competitors’ preparations had been national news in the US for some time. Transatlantic-flying mania was gripping the US and France in a way that it was not gripping the UK and Canada in 1919.

Plus, Lindbergh did a huge publicity tour in France and an even bigger one in the US to promote commercial flight, and to get local worthies to build airfields. Alcock was killed just a few months after his transatlantic flight.

Finally, commercial radio wasn’t much of a thing in 1919. Lingbergh’s return to the US was the most-listened-to broadcast in history for some time.

I’ve always heard Lindbergh’s achievement touted as “the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight.” I thought that’s what made it noteworthy, that he did it alone.

Well first we need to find out where the hell Long Island is.

Long Island is (and I’m pretty sure it was in 1927) reachable by bridges; neither Newfoundland nor Ireland are. To get from continent to continent you’d still have to make additional flights or take a ship.

Plus, (according to Wikipedia) a 1985 Supreme Court decision treated Long Island as a peninsula.

I know other people were planning their own flights (and wasn’t there at least one unsuccessful attempt shortly before Lindbergh), but were they all from Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget? I’ve been to Le Bourget and would like to visit the site of Roosevelt Field. It’s a shopping mall now, but I think there’s some sort of marker to commemorate its history.

Lindbergh’s was the first solo flight, but the prize he was competing for didn’t say it had to be solo. I’m not sure if airship’s were eligible; they would seem to have had the capability before Lindbergh.

Not really such a contrast.

Alcock and Brown (and Vickers) were one of several teams preparing for the worlds first transatlantic flight to claim the Daily Mail aviation prize. The amount was £10,000, more than the US$ 25,000 of the Orteig prize.

But you’re right that the story of their flight never quite caught on the same way as Lindberghs did, neither Alcock nor Brown seemed to have had much thirst for fame.

According to what I’ve read the biggest hurdle was to find and prepare an unobstructed, level field suitable for take-off. Ditches had to be filled, trees uprooted, rock walls and in some cases houses were levelled.

They only needed 500 yards, but most of the good spots had been taken when they came to Newfoundland. The Sopwith had already flown but ditched in the ocean by the time the crates holding the Vimy arrived. The Martinsyde crashed during take-off the same day and their pilot offered use of their field to A&C. The Vimy was assembled there while they cleared a bigger field as needed for a fully fueled Vimy. The big four-engined HP entrant where not yet ready when the weather cleared up, and the rest is history.

The most famous failed attempt was the flight of “L’Oiseau Blanc”, the White Bird, piloted by WW1 ace Charles Nungesser. His was the only flight going from Paris to New York rather than reverse. He knew that flying west across the Atlantic he could expect headwinds which would severely prolong the journey. Partly for economic reasons, partly national pride made him plan it so nonetheless. The day he took off from Le Bourget meteorologists in Paris had predicted a rare favorable tailwind from east across the Atlantic. In fact he most probably had a headwind of 25 mph. The plane and crew has never been found, and there’s a small cottage industry speculating on its fate and searching for it. Most probably they went bingo fuel over the Atlantic, but there are sightings over land which could have been of the White Bird.

Rene Fonck (top french WW1 ace, and second only to Richthofen in kills) crashed a three-engine Sikorsky during take off from Roosevelt Field in pursuit of the prize. Fonck survived, two of his crew did not.

Wooster and Davis crashed fatally taking off from a field in Virginia, but that was a test flight I think, they probably would have started from New York for the record attempt.