Flying a modified Vickers Vimy twin-engined bomber, they took off from Newfoundland in the late afternoon June 14, 1919 and landed in a marsh in Connemara, Ireland, at 8:40am on June 15, 1919.
A previous flight across the Atlantic, in May of that year by theNC-4, a United States Navy flying boat took over 19 days with multiple stops along the way.
John Alcock was born in 1892 at Seymour, Old Trafford, England. He first became interested in flying at the age of seventeen,. He became an experienced pilot during World War I, though he was shot down during a bombing raid, and taken prisoner in Turkey. After the war, Alcock wanted to continue his flying career and took up the challenge of attempting to be the first to fly directly across the Atlantic. Alcock was the pilot for the Atlantic flight.
Arthur Whitten Brown was born in Glasgow in 1886. He began his career in engineering before the outbreak of the First World War. Brown also became a prisoner of war, after being shot down over Germany. Once released and back in Britain, Brown continued to develop his aerial navigation skills. While visiting the engineering firm of Vickers he was asked if he would be the navigator for the proposed transatlantic flight, partnering John Alcock, who had already been chosen as pilot.
During the First World War, the Daily Mail newspaper had instituted a competion with a prize of ten thousand pounds to be won by the first flyers to cross the Atlantic non-stop.
The flight lasted 19 hours, at an average speed of 118 mph, and the altitude varied between sea level and 12,000 ft. 865 gallons of fuel were on board. On landing the aircraft was badly damaged, but neither of the airmen were hurt.
Alcock and Brown were treated as heroes on the completion of their flight. A memorial statue was erected at London's Heathrow Airport in 1954 to celebrate their flight. A monument marks their landing point, and their aircraft (rebuilt by the Vickers Company) resides in the London Science Museum
The achievement, much celebrated at the time, was later eclipsed in the mind of the United States public by Charles A. Lindbergh's 1927 achievement, which was the first solo crossing, and also the first crossing from mainland to mainland.
See also: Milestones in aviation