The First Successful Transatlantic Flight By the US Navy's NC-4 Flying Boat
Posted 17 December 2009 - 06:50 AM
The planes were not finished and tested until after the war was over. The US Navy decided to try a demonstration of transatlantic flight nonetheless.
The NC-4 was the fourth of the Navy's initial series of four large Curtiss NC Flying Boats constructed for the Navy by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. The NC-4 made its first test flight on 30 April 1919
Posted 17 December 2009 - 06:52 AM
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The route taken by the US Navy operation is included in the map of the North Atlantic, published by Flight Magazine on May 29, 1919, while the NC-4 was still in Portuguese waters.
This feat was eclipsed shortly afterwards by the first non-stop Transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown in a Vickers Vimy, when they flew from Newfoundland to Ireland on June 14/15, 1919 in 16 hours and 27 minutes, thereby winning the Daily Mail prize of £10,000, which had been announced in 1913, and renewed in 1918, to "the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States, Canada, or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland, in 72 consecutive hours". The conditions also stipulated that "only one aircraft may be used for each attempt."
Posted 17 December 2009 - 07:09 AM
Posted 17 December 2009 - 07:16 AM
The NC-4 Medal was presented to six United States Navy members, and one Coast Guard officer, for flight duties performed in May 1919 while crossing the Atlantic in airplanes of the NC-4 Flying Boat Squadron. The medal was issued as a one time decoration and was never reactivated or awarded again. Thus, the only Navy recipients of the medal were the following personnel:
Commander John H. Towers
Lieutenant Commander Albert C. Read
Lieutenant Walter Hinton
Lieutenant James L. Breese
Ensign Herbert C. Rodd
Chief Machinist's Mate Eugene T. Rhoads (not Eugene S. Rhodes; this is a common misspelling. The "T" is for Taylor, and Rhoads' name was even misspelled on the medal!)
The only Coast Guard recipient of the NC-4 Medal was Lieutenant Elmer Stone.
The NC-4 Medal appeared as a gold medallion, suspended from a multi-colored ribbon. Upon the medallion was the image of a seagull, flying above ocean waves, with the words “FIRST TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT UNITED STATES NAVY MAY 1919” inscribed along the outer edges of the medal. Due to the rarity of the NC-4 Medal, there are no known photographs of the full sized medal being worn on a military uniform. One original NC-4 Medal is maintained by the Navy Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.. The ribbon for the NC-4 medal was approved for everyday wear on military uniforms and photographic evidence gives indication that the NC-4 medal recipients did display this ribbon while still serving in active military status. There are also some surviving NC-4 ribbons still in existence today, mainly found with the families of the original recipients.
After the creation of the NC-4 Medal, the decoration was approved as an official award of the United States Navy. Following the various retirements, deaths, and release from military service of the original recipients, the NC-4 Medal became regarded as a commemorative medal. In the modern United States Navy, the NC-4 Medal is considered obsolete and does not appear on any military award precedence charts.
Posted 17 December 2009 - 09:10 AM
Posted 31 May 2010 - 07:13 PM
In summer 1969, the restored NC-4 was put on display (outside) on the National Mall in Washington DC to commemerate the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic crossing.
From personal experience, this was a glorious sight to see; the sunlight on the yellow wings and blue fuselage made for an amazing display. It also made you realize just how BIG this airplane actually is!
(It is now kept indoors of course)
Thanks for the memories; great photo series.
Posted 08 November 2010 - 11:30 AM
The Triumph of the NC´s
Flight Across the Atlantic
The First Flight Across the Atlantic
Commdr. Ted Wilbur
Photo details about the NC-4
Quoting Lindberg about this flight:
« I had a better chance of reaching Europe on board of The Spirit of St. Louis than the NC´s boats had of reaching the Azores. I had a more reliable type of engine, improved instruments and a Continent instead of an island for a target. It was skill, determination and a hard-working crew that carried the NC-4 to the completion of the first trans-Atlantic flight».
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