The Vickers Vimy aircraft flown by Alcock and Brown across the Atlantic in June 1919.
One hundred years ago this morning, John Alcock and Arthur Brown crash-landed in a bog near the Marconi Station in Clifden, Co. Galway. They were the first to fly across the Atlantic nonstop. They had taken off from Newfoundland sixteen and a half hours earlier. From the air, their choice of landing spot appeared to be a field. It was actually a bog, and as the plane was landing, the wheels sank and the plane was damaged (though the pilots were unhurt).
The plane, a Vickers Vimy, was repaired and is on display in the Science Museum in London (where these photographs were taken in early 2010).
Both aviators were members of the Royal Air Force and both men had survived plane crashes (and subsequent imprisonment) during the first World War. Brown had been shot down over Germany during World War One, and Alcock’s plane crashed over Turkey due to engine failure. Alcock used up the last of his luck crossing the Atlantic – he was killed 6 months later flying a new plane to Paris. Because the plane landed beside a Marconi station, new of the successful voyage spread abroad quickly. The plane was carrying some letters and was thus also the first transatlantic mail delivery by air.
In June 1979, the RAF marked the 60th anniversary of the crossing by flying a Phantom jet from Newfoundland to the UK, with a two-man crew named Alcock and Browne. The pilot , Tony Alcock, was a nephew of John Alcock.
The Marconi telegraph station (now gone) near Clifden in Co. Galway (picture courtesy of the National Library, and taken more than 100 years ago)