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Race Across the Atlantic (ePub)

Alcock and Brown's Record-Breaking Non-Stop Flight

Aviation Explorers & Adventurers 20th Century

By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar
Imprint: Air World
File Size: 14.3 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781526747846
eBook Released: 20th June 2019


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It was Tuesday, 15 June 1919 and for the residents of Clifden on Ireland’s west coast this was not to be a normal day. Just before 08.40 hours, descending out of the gloom, came a large, twin-engine aeroplane lining up for final approach. One or two on-lookers recognised the danger straight away for this was an area of soft bog, but their attempts to alert the pilot were in vain.

The aircraft began to sink and, with a squelch, came to a sudden stop, the tail rearing up in the air. Dazed and with fuel filling the cockpit the two-man crew scrambled out, grabbing what they could. After a flight lasting 16 hours and 28 minutes, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten-Brown had won the race to be the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic.

It was a rough ending for a race that began in April 1913 when Lord Rothermere, aviation philanthropist and owner of the Daily Mail, offered a prize of £10,000, roughly equivalent to $1,000,000 in today’s money, to ‘the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours’.

Illustrated by many unique photographs this book tells the story of the race, delayed for almost six years by the First World War. Many aircraft would be entered but few would even get off the ground. The teams faced great difficulties in preparing for the challenge of crossing one of the most hostile stretches of ocean on Earth.

The authors not only reveal tales of failures and technical difficulties, but of the intense frustration of waiting for the perfect weather-window. And even when finally airborne, Alcock and Brown’s flight almost ended in disaster on several occasions as weather conditions almost conspired to cast them down into the grey, cold waters of the Atlantic and almost certain death.

It’s an uplifting and inspiring story of invention, persistence, self-belief and, most importantly of all, the bond between Alcock and Brown as they put their full faith in one another and championed the most unthinkable of achievements. The knowledge that Alcock, a man who truly changed the aviation world and thus the fate of the world as we know it, lies in Bucks with us today is nothing short of an honour.

hiya bucks - review by Matt Batsman

Featured in

Royal Aeronautical Society

Article: 'Remembering the world’s first transatlantic flight that crash-landed in Ireland 100 years ago' as featured by

South China Morning Post, 17th May 2019 – words by Adam Nebbs

Stunning photos included in Bruce Vigar and Colin Higgs' Race Across the Atlantic: Alcock and Brown's Record-Breaking Non-Stop Flight give an enthralling account of the 16-and-a-half-hour flight through terrible weather on 14/15 June 1919.

Mail Online

About Colin Higgs

COLIN HIGGS has more than twenty-five years’ experience in the broadcast and home entertainment industries and for much of that time has co-produced, written and researched aviation documentaries together with Bruce Vigar. Colin’s business, A Flying History, was created to make accessible the unique Peter Keating and John Stroud aviation photograph collections and Colin and Bruce’s extensive archive of first-hand interviews with veterans.

About Bruce Vigar

BRUCE VIGAR is a media professional with a career spanning over four decades. He has also had the privilege of interviewing a large number of veterans of conflicts in which they did far more in considerably less time. It is the latter that launched Bruce into writing when not producing and directing documentaries through his production company, LeadingEdgeTV Limited. Bruce lives in Kent with his wife, two adult children and three dogs.

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