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Vickers Vimy Biplane

first non-stop transatlantic flight North West,

Six men standing by the wing of a biplane. A large propeller can be seen just behind them.
Alcock and Brown’s transatlantic Vickers Vimy biplane being refuelled in Newfoundland, 1919. Science Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library

To give a lift to the early aviation industry, in 1913 Daily Mail owner Lord Northcliffe offered a £10,000 prize to the first person to cross the Atlantic within 72 continuous hours.

In March 1919 Manchester-born John Alcock (1892-1919) took up the challenge when he approached the Vickers firm at Weybridge, which was considering entering its Vimy bomber, a twin-engined biplane powered by two Rolls-Royce 350 HP Eagle engines. Alcock’s enthusiasm convinced Vickers that he should be the pilot, and work began to improve the plane for the long flight. Arthur Whitten Brown (1886-1948), a former Royal Flying Corps observer, was taken on as navigator.

On 14 June 1919 they set off from St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada. The flight was beset with problems, from icy snowstorms to malfunctioning equipment. Despite this they arrived in Galway, Ireland at 08.40 GMT the following morning.

Coast to coast they had flown 1890 miles (3042 km) in 15 hours 57 minutes at an average (wind-assisted) speed of 118.5 mph (191 km/h). The actual journey from takeoff to landing had taken 16 hours 27 minutes, making them the first people to fly across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping.

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

North West
Key Individuals
Arthur Whitten Brown, John Alcock,