Alcock and Brown Flight

History of Alcock and Brown Flight

Alcock and Brown landing Clifden 1919
Alcock and Brown landing Clifden 1919

In 1919 at St John’s Airfield in Newfoundland Canada one of the most important events took place in civil aviation history. Sir John Alcock and Sir Arthur Witten Brown from England made history by piloting the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight across the North Atlantic. During and after world war one, the development of aircraft led to aviators trying to achieve flying across the Atlantic nonstop. It was in 1919 when the flying of aircraft across the Atlantic became a reality. Alcock and Brown met in early 1919 in order to achieve trans-Atlantic flight nonstop. Alcock and Brown both fought during world war one in aircraft bombers and it was from this experience which led their passion to achieve the first nonstop transatlantic flight.

Alcock and Brown achieved full pilot license when they were in their late teens and early 20’s. Alcock and Browns journey started in St John’s airfield Newfoundland. The Vickers Vimy Biplane used for the flight was made of a wooden frame and flight instruments only included a compass and sextant for basic navigation. The propeller engines were from Rolls Royce. On the 14th of June 1919 Alcock and Brown set off from St John’s Airfield on-route to Clifden. Alcock and Brown took off on the afternoon of 1:40pm at St John’s airfield. For the first few hours of the journey altitude of the Vickers Vimy Bi-plane ranged from 3000-5000 feet and climbing. To cross the North Atlantic a distance of 1880 miles needed to be achieved non-stop.

During the flight Alcock and Brown encountered problems such as poor weather leading to difficult visibility from snow, wind and driving rain. During the 16 to 19 hour flight, an average speed of 100 to 115 MPH was recorded and a maximum 10-12000 feet in height was recorded halfway during the flight. It was at the halfway point during the journey where Alcock and Brown could not turn back and must continue their flight. It was on the 15th of June on the morning of 08:30am local time where Alcock and Brown crash landed near Clifden at the Marconi Station. It was by accident that Alcock and Brown landed near Clifden, Ireland as the original plan was to land near London. It was envisaged that landing near London was not a possibility due to poor weather near Ireland and the possibility of not having enough fuel to continue to London.

When Alcock and Brown reached Clifden they circulated over the town when navigating a flat area to land. Alcock and Brown nose dive their Vimy plane at a flat area of Derrigimlagh Bog at the Marconi Station near Clifden. It was at the Marconi Station where Alcock and Brown sent a telegram to message London saying that they achieved the first Trans-Atlantic flight across the Atlantic. Alcock and Brown were transported back to home to England by train and boat from Clifden. Alcock and Brown received prize money of £10,000 by Winston Churchill when they accomplished the first trans-Atlantic flight and made world headlines on the Daily Mirror paper. Sadly Alcock died tragically in December 1919 during an air show in Paris and Brown died when he was 62 after a short illness.