From Academic Kids

The NC-4 was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. In May of 1919 the NC-4, a United States Navy flying boat made the crossing over 19 days with multiple stops along the way.

The NC-4
The NC-4

The mission was the result of planning that began during World War I, when Allied shipping was threatened by submarine warfare. Designs were started for an airplane capable of flying from the United States to Europe on its own power.

The planes were not finished and tested until after the war was over. The US Navy decided to try a demonstration of trans-Atlantic flight none the less.

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.


The Transatlantic flight

The Navy Transatlantic flying expedition began on 8 May. The NC-4 was originally in the company of two other NC Flying Boats, the NC-1 and the NC-3. They left Long Island, New York, then stopped in Newfoundland before leaving on 16 May for the longest leg of their journey, the flight to the Azores, reached 15 hours later. The NC-1 and the NC-3 were both forced to land at sea due to rough weather; the crews were rescued by ships. After delays for repairs, the NC-4 took off again and landed in Lisbon, Portugal on 27 May, becoming the first airplane to cross the ocean under its own power, with 26 hours total flying time. The NC-4 later flew on to England, arriving in Plymouth on 31 May to great fanfare.

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Missing image

Crew of the NC-4, posing before the start of the flight
Left to right: Read, Stone, Hinton, Rodd, Howard, Breese.

The crew of the NC-4 was Albert Cushing Read, commander/navigator; Walter Hinton and Elmer F. Stone, pilots, James L. Breese and Eugene S Rhoads, flight engineers, and Herbert C Rodd, radio operator. Initially E.H. Howard was to go as a flight engineer, but Howard lost a hand in a propeller accident at the start of the mission, and was replaced by Rhoads.

After the crossing

Missing image
Engine of NC-4 in Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum, 1997

After arrving in Plymouth, the NC-4 flew on to make an appearance at London. The plane and crew then made a triumphal tour of England and France for two weeks; they then returned to the United States -- by ship. Following this they made a goodwill tour of the United States.

To honor the first transatlantic cross, in 1929 the United States Navy created a special military decoration known as the NC-4 Medal.

The NC-4 airplane is now preserved in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

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