Happy Anniversary: First Nonstop Transatlantic Flight Took Place 100 Years Ago Today
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On a wind-swept field in Galway, Ireland, an unusual monument marks the spot where aviation history was made a century ago when aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight.
This achievement is marked on June 15, 2019, the 100-year anniversary of their flight. Only 19 years after brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright completed the world’s first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, Alcock and Brown made the next leap in aviation by completing the first nonstop flight across the Pond from St. John’s, Canada, to Clifden, Ireland.
The monument that marks the spot of such an achievement in aviation history might not be what you are expecting. It is an odd egg-shaped structure standing where the pair touched down after their historic journey. Looking more like a missile arising from an underground bunker than a monument to such an outstanding achievement in aviation, it somehow fits well with the rolling hills that surround the area.
Today, transatlantic flight is a part of everyday modern life. Around 2,500 flights complete the crossing each day, carrying passengers quickly and in relative comfort.
Alcock and Brown’s journey, by comparison, was less than enjoyable. The pair didn’t have the help of modern air traffic control — not that there was any other traffic to worry about. They only had simple navigational instruments, the airframe and two Rolls-Royce Eagle engines to make the journey onboard the Vickers Vimy biplane. (The engines were built in the same factory in Derby, England, where Rolls-Royce is still making parts for the aerospace industry 100 years later.) In the open cockpit, traveling at around 110 mph, the aviators’ one comfort was their custom-made, heated Burberry suits.
The pair completed the crossing in just over 16 hours (talk about long-haul flight). The landing was more of a controlled crash: turns out bogs don’t make great landing strips for aircraft. But no matter, the pair had completed their journey. These days, modern aircraft make the journey in only six to seven hours, and Concorde could do it in only three and a half hours between New York-JFK and London’s Heathrow (LHR).
The journey earned the two aviators the £10,000 prize offered by the British Daily Mail newspaper, almost $650,000 in today’s money. The pair showed their appreciation for all those involved with the aircraft and its engines by sharing their prize with the engineers and workers who constructed the plane and built the engines.
For the latest travel news, deals, and points and miles tips please subscribe to The Points Guy daily email newsletter.
Featured Photo by Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees