Celebrating the First Trans-Atlantic Flight. No, It Wasn’t Lindbergh’s.

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tags: planes, aviation history, Lindbergh

The first trans-Atlantic flight? Lindbergh seems the obvious answer. But that would be wrong.

Yes, Charles A. Lindbergh belongs in the history books — for the first nonstop, solo flight across the Atlantic.

But note the words nonstop and solo. Lindbergh was not the first aviator to cross the Atlantic Ocean. His record-setting achievement was flying to Europe alone in the cockpit without stopping.

So, who got there first? Six Navy and Coast Guard crewmen in 1919, eight years before him. Their mammoth seaplane, known as the NC-4, left Rockaway Beach in Queens 100 years ago Wednesday.

Theirs was no nonstop flight — they stopped in several places along the way for repairs and refueling — and the going was slow. Lindbergh made the trip in less than a day and a half. They took almost three weeks. At every stop, they had to wait for parts to be delivered or bad weather to clear before they could take off again.

At the time, what they accomplished was front-page news, including in The New York Times. But unlike the Wright brothers or Amelia Earhart later on, the NC-4 and its crew have been largely forgotten. 

“This was lost to history, eclipsed by Lindbergh,” said Robert Schwach, a retired New York City police lieutenant. “It just didn’t seem fair.”


Read entire article at NY Times

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