This Week in History
"Leaving on a Jet Plane"
For the week of Monday June 9, 2008
On June 14, 1919, at 12:58 p.m. Newfoundland time, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown took off from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in a Vickers Vimy biplane. The two men were hoping to complete the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight in history. Sixteen hours and twelve minutes later, they did.
Alcock had started planning his attempt at the prize before he had even met Brown. The men became a team shortly after an interview at Vickers, where Alcock was chief test-pilot. After hearing Brown speak about the problems of navigation over the Atlantic, Alcock asked Brown to accompany him on the flight. Their aircraft, the Vimy, had been a rush project during the First World War. Although it had taken only four months for Vickers to develop and test the bomber, it had not been ready in time to see action. To make the Vimy suitable for a trans-Atlantic flight, the crew at Vickers removed its military fittings and increased its fuel-tank capacity.
Great celebration followed. In addition to receiving the £10,000 prize, Alcock and Brown were both knighted. At a reception hosted by the Royal Aero Club in London, the aviators were served Oeufs Pochés Alcock, Suprême de Sole à la Brown, Poulet de Printemps à la Vickers Vimy, Salade Clifden and, of course, Gâteau Grand Succès.
Alcock-Brown Trans-Atlantic Flight is a National Historic Event.
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