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Alcock & Brown

  • Alcock & Brown
  • Interview by: Dan Waters


14th June 1919, John Alcock and Arthur Brown

took off from Lester’s Field, St, John’s, Newfoundland

Their ambition was to fly across the Atlantic Ocean

A month earlier, Harry Hawker and Kenneth Mackenzie Grieve

had attempted such a flight

and had been rescued from the sea, after ditching due to engine failure.

Their plane seems horribly primitive by modern standards

wooden framed with an open cockpit and no modern navigational systems

Brown planned to map their route by the stars

Almost immediately they ran into trouble

thick fog made navigation impossible – they were flying blind

Worse still, Brown realised that their generator had been damaged

without electricity they had no radio

He scribbled a note and passed it to Alcock

They continued to write notes

as they probed their way through the fog and the darkness

discussing the route and their strategy for making it safely to land

Despite the hardship, the danger and the freezing cold

their spirits seemed high

At dawn Brown realised they were still on course

and at 8.25 am on June 15th they crossed the Irish coast

Struggling to find a suitable place to land

they crashed into a bog near Clifden, County Galway

As the first men to cross the Atlantic, they became instant celebrities

Both men were Knighted by King George V

  • Vickers Vimy

    © RAF Museum

  • John Alcock

    © RAF Museum

  • Arthur Brown

    © RAF Museum

  • Vickers Vimy

    © RAF Museum

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