- Transatlantic flight
Transatlantic flight is the flight of an
aircraft, whether fixed-wing aircraft, balloonor other device, which involves crossing the Atlantic Ocean— with a starting point in North Americaor South Americaand ending in Europeor Africa, or vice versa.
Problems that faced early aviation included the unreliability of early engines, limited range (which prevented them from flying continuously for the periods of time required to completely cross the Atlantic), the difficulty of navigating over featureless expanses of water for thousands of miles, and the unpredictable and often violent weather of the North Atlantic. Today, however, commercial transatlantic flight is routine. Experimental flight (in balloons, small aircraft, etc.) still presents a challenge.
Commercial transatlantic flight
Unlike over land, transatlantic flights use standardized aircraft routes called
North Atlantic Tracks(NATs). These change daily in position (although altitudes are standardised) to compensate for weather—particularly the jet stream tailwinds and headwinds, which may be substantial at cruising altitudes and have a strong influence on trip duration and fuel economy. Eastbound flights generally operate during nighttime hours, while westbound flights generally operate during daytime hours, for passenger convenience. Restrictions on how far aircraft may be from an airport also play a part in determining transatlantic routes; in general, the greater the number of engines an aircraft has, the greater the distance it is allowed to be from the nearest airport (since a single engine failure in a four-engine aircraft is less crippling than a single engine failure in a twin). Modern aircraft with two engines flying transatlantic have to be ETOPScertified.
Gaps in air traffic control and radar coverage over large stretches of the Earth's oceans, as well as an absence of most types of radio navigation aids, impose a requirement for a high level of autonomy in navigation upon transatlantic flights. Aircraft must include reliable systems that can determine the aircraft's course and position with great accuracy over long distances. In addition to the traditional
compass, inertials and satellite navigation systems such as GPS all have their place in transatlantic navigation. Land-based systems such as VOR and DME, however, are mostly useless for ocean crossings.
The North Atlantic presented challenges for aviators due to weather and the huge distances involved coupled with the lack of stopping points. Initial transatlantic services, therefore, focused more on the South Atlantic, where a number of French, German, and Italian airlines offered
seaplaneservice for mail between South America and West Africa in the 1930s. From February 1934 to August 1939 "Deutsche Lufthansa" operated a regular airmail service between Natal, Brazil, and Bathurst, The Gambia, continuing "via" the Canary Islandsand Spainto Stuttgart, Germany. [cite book |last=Graue |first=James W |coauthors=John Duggan |title=Deutsche Lufthansa South Atlantic Airmail Service 1934 - 1939 |origyear=2000 |publisher=Zeppelin Study Group |isbn= 0951411454] From December 1935, " Air France" opened a regular weekly airmail route between South America and Africa. German airlines, such as "Deutsche Lufthansa", experimented with mail routes over the North Atlantic in the early 1930s, both with seaplanes and dirigibles, but these were not regular scheduled services and never led to commercial operations. There were, however, hundreds of commercial transatlantic crossings with passengers made by German airships during the late 1920s and 1930s, including the "Graf Zeppelin" and "Hindenburg".
As technology progressed,
Pan American World Airwaysof the United States, Imperial Airwaysof Britain, and "Aéropostale" of France, began to use flying boats to connect the Americas to Europe "via" Bermudaand the Azoresduring the 1930s. On 26 March 1939, Pan American made its first trial transatlantic flight from Baltimore, Maryland to Foynes, Ireland using a Boeing 314(named " Yankee Clipper" by PanAm) with a scheduled flight time of about 29 hours. After World War II, American and European carriers such as Pan Am, TWA, Trans Canada Airlines(TCA), BOAC, and Air Franceacquired larger piston aircraft, which allowed service over the North Atlantic with intermediate stops (usually in Gander International Airport, Newfoundland and/or Shannon, Ireland). Jet service began in the late 1950s, and supersonic service ( Concorde) was offered from 1976 to 2003. Since the loosening of regulations in the 1970s and 1980s, a large number of airlines now compete in the transatlantic market, though restrictions on certain airports still remain (see " Bermuda II").
Early notable transatlantic flights
; First transatlantic flight:
May 8- May 31, 1919. U.S. Navy Curtiss flying boat NC-4under command of Albert Read, 4,526 statute miles (7,284 km), from Rockaway, New York, to Plymouth, England, "via" Trepassey, Newfoundland, Azores, Lisbon, Portugal, and other intermediate stops, in 53 hours, 58 minutes. Flown on the aircraft named "Lame Duck."
; First non-stop transatlantic flight:
June 14- June 15 1919. Capt. John Alcock and Lieut. Arthur Whitten Brownof the United Kingdomin Vickers Vimy bomber, between islands, 1,960 nautical miles (3,630 km), from St. John's, Newfoundland (then an independent dominion, not yet part of Canada), to Clifden, Ireland(then still part of the United Kingdom), in 16 hours 12 minutes.; First east-to-west transatlantic flight: July 1919. Major George Herbert Scottof the Royal Air Forcewith his crew and passengers flies from [http://www.nms.ac.uk/flight/home/index.asp East Fortune] , Scotlandto Mineola, Long Islandin airship"R34", covering a distance of about 3,000 statute miles (4,800 km) in about four and a half days; he then made a return trip to England.; First flight across the South Atlantic: March 30- June 17, 1922. Lieutenant Commander Sacadura Cabral (pilot) and Cdr. Gago Coutinho (navigator) of Portugal, using three FaireyIIID floatplanes ("Lusitania", "Portugal", and "Santa Cruz"), after two ditchings, with only internal means of navigation (the Coutinho-invented sextant with artificial horizon) from Lisbon, Portugal, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [http://honeymooney.com/brazil/coutinho_cabral_summary.htm] ; First non-stop aircraft flight between European and American mainlands: [cite book |last=Althoff |first=William F. |title=USS Los Angeles: the Navy's venerable airship and aviation technology |origyear=2003 |publisher=Brassey's Inc. |location=Dulles, Virginia |isbn=1-57488-620-7 ] October 1924. The Zeppelin"ZR-3" (LZ-126), from Germanyto New Jerseywith a crew commanded by Dr. Hugo Eckener, covering a distance of about 4,000 statute miles (6,400 km).; Notable failed attempt: May 8- May 9, 1927. Charles Nungesserand François Coliattempted to cross the Atlantic from Paristo the USAin a LevasseurPL-8 biplane (named " The White Bird", "L'Oiseau Blanc"), but were lost. According to some witnesses, they might have crashed in Maine, USA.; First solo transatlantic flight and first non-stop fixed-wing aircraftflight between America and mainland Europe: May 20- May 21, 1927. Charles A. Lindberghflies Ryan monoplane(named " Spirit of St. Louis"), 3,600 nautical miles (6,667 km), from Long Island to Paris, in 33 1/2 hours. The flight was timed by the Longineswatch company.; First transatlantic air passenger: June 4- June 5, 1927. The first transatlantic air passenger was Charles A. Levine. He was carried as a passenger by Clarence D. Chamberlinfrom Roosevelt Field, New York, to Eisleben, Germany, in a Wright-powered Bellanca.; First non-stop air crossing of the South Atlantic: October 14- October 15 1927- Dieudonne Costesand Joseph le Brix, flying a Breguet 19from Senegalto Brazil.; First non-stop fixed-wing aircraft westbound flight over the North Atlantic: April 12- April 13, 1928. Gunther von Huenfeldand Capt. Hermann Koehlof Germanyand Comdr. James Fitzmaurice of Irelandfly a Junkers W33b monoplane (named "Bremen"), 2,070 statute miles (3,331 km), from Ireland to Labrador, in 36 1/2 hours [cite book |last=Wagner |first=Wolfgang |title=Hugo Junkers: Pionier der Luftfahrt |origyear=1996 |series=Die deutsche Luftfahrt |publisher=Bernard & Graefe Verlag |location=Bonn |language=German |isbn=3-7637-6112-8 ] .; First woman to fly as a passenger: June 17- June 18 1928. Amelia Earhartin Fokker F.VII trimotor"Friendship".; Notable flight ( around the world): August 1- August 8, 1929. Dr Hugo Eckenerpiloted the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelinacross the Atlantic three times: 4391 miles east to west in 4 days from August 1; return 4391 miles west to east in 2 days from August 8; after completing the circumnavigation to Lakehurst a final 4391 miles west to east landing 4 September, making three crossings in 34 days. [ [http://www.wingnet.org/rtw/rtw001j.htm Round the World Flights] ] ; First nonstop east-to-west fixed-wing aircraft flight between European and American mainlands: September 1- September 2, 1930. Dieudonne Costesand Maurice Bellonte fly a Breguet 19Super Bidon biplane (named "Point d'Interrogation", Question Mark), 6,200 km from Paris to New York City.; Notable flight ( around the world): June 23-July 1, 1931. Wiley Post(pilot) and Harold Gatty(navigator) in a Lockheed Vegamonoplane (named "Winnie Mae"), 15,477 nm (28,663 km) from Long Island in 8 days 15 hours 51 minutes, with 14 stops, total flying time 107 hours 2 minutes.; First Transatlantic Solo Flight by a Woman: May 20- May 21, 1932. Amelia Earhartin Lockheed Vega, 2,026 nautical miles (3,752 km), from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, to Derry, Northern Ireland, in 15 hours 18 minutes.; First solo westbound crossing of the Atlantic: August 18- August 19 1932. Jim Mollison, flying a de Havilland Puss Mothfrom Dublinto New Brunswick; Smallest plane that crossed the Atlantic: May 7- May 8, 1933. Stanisław Skarżyńskimakes a solo flight across the South Atlantic, covering 3,582 km (2,226 statute miles), in a RWD-5"bis" - empty weight below 450 kg (990 lb).; Mass flight: mass transatlantic flight: July 1- July 15 1933. Gen. Italo Balboof Italy leads 24 Savoia-Marchetti seaplanes6,100 statute miles (9,817 km), from Orbetello, Italy, to Chicago, Ill., in 47 hours 52 minutes.; First around the world solo flight: July 15- July 22 1933. Wiley Postflies Lockheed Vegamonoplane "Winnie Mae" 15,596 statute miles (25,099 km) in 7 days 8 hours 49 minutes, with 11 stops; flying time, 115 hours 36 minutes.; First jet aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean: July 14 1948, six de Havilland VampireF3s of No 54 Squadron RAF, commanded by Wing Commander D S Wilson-MacDonald, DSO, DFC, "via" Stornoway, Iceland, and Labradorto Montrealon the first leg of a goodwill tour of Canada and the US.; First jet aircraft to make a non-stop transatlantic flight: February 21 1951. An RAF Canberra B Mk 2 ( serial number"WD932") flown by Squadron LeaderA Callard, from Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, to Gander, Newfoundland. The flight covered almost 1,800 miles in 4h 37 m. The aircraft was being flown to the U.S. to act as a pattern aircraft for the Martin B-57.
Other early transatlantic flights
June 4- June 5 1927. Clarence Duncan Chamberlinand Charles Albert Levinein Bellancamonoplane make first nonstop New York- Germanyflight, 3,911 statute miles (6,294 km), in 43 hours, 49 minutes, 33 seconds.
June 29- July 1 1927- Admiral Richard Byrd with crew flies Fokker F.VIIa/3m "America" from New York City to France.
July 13 1928- Ludwik Idzikowskiand Kazimierz Kubala attempt to crossing the Atlantic westbound from Paris to the USA in Amiot 123 biplane, but crash in the Azores.
February 6- February 9 1933. Jim Mollisonflies a Puss Moth from Senegal to Brazil, across South Atlantic, becoming the first person to fly solo across the North and South Atlantics.
July 15- July 17 1933- Lithuanians Steponas Dariusand Stasys Girėnaswere supposed to make a non-stop flight from New York City "via" Newfoundland to Kaunason their plane named " Lituanica", but crashed in the forests of Germany after 6411 km of flying, only 650 km short of their final destination. Flying time 37 hours, 11 minutes. They carried the first transatlantic airmailconsignment.
July 5 1937- Captain Harold Gray of Pan Am flew from Botwood, Newfoundland to Foynes, Ireland in a Sikorsky 42flying boat as part of the first transatlanticcommercial passenger test flights. Captain Arthur Wilcockson of Imperial Airwaysflew from Foynesto Botwood July 6 1937in a Short Empire class flying boat named " Caledonia"
August 10 1938- first non-stop flight from Berlinto New York. The Focke-Wulf Fw 200needed 24 hours, 56 minutes and did the return flight three days later in 19 hours, 47 minutes.
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