Alcock & Brown

Aviation History Newfoundland & Labrador

Alcock & Brown: A Brief History

Ask the average person on the street who was first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and the response is quite likely to be Charles Lindbergh. True, he did indeed fly the ocean and, stoically, he did it alone. He also did it non-stop, an impressive feat in 1927 but, speaking to the press shortly after his landing in Paris, he was quoted as saying: “Alcock and Brown showed me the way.

Almost exactly 100 years ago and a full eight years before Lucky Lindy, two officers of the Royal Air Force in Great Britain made their way to the rocky shores of Newfoundland intent on becoming the first people in the world to be able to say, yesterday we were in America.

John Alcock, pilot and Arthur Whitten-Brown, navigator, flying a twin engine converted World War One bomber with fabric wings and an open cockpit,

 would challenge not only the unpredictable weather over the northern ocean but several other teams of aviators intent on the same accomplishment. From a rough strip corresponding roughly to todays’ Blackmarsh Road, their fuel laden aircraft struggled into the air, flew over the capital city of St. John’s, over The Narrows leading to the city’s famous harbour and into history. Their legacy survives today in the routine takeoff of every heated, pressurized airliner that carries dozens or hundreds of people from continent to continent with hardly a second thought. Fighting snow, fog and mechanical faults, the two reached Ireland just 16 hours after lifting off. Explore with us their incredible story on this and other web sites and through the numerous historical accounts by aviation authors available from your favourite book store.

© Aviation History Newfoundland and Labrador