A century ago in May 1919, three huge seaplanes set out to be the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic, albeit with stops en route in Canada and the Azores. One of the three, designated NC-4, completed the journey, reaching the final destination of Plymouth, England, on May 31.
The aircraft that proved capable of crossing the Atlantic in 1919 was born in desperate times during World War I. The German navy had perfected its U-boats in that war, and Allied shipping paid a terrible price. The U.S. Navy sought a far-ranging flying boat to combat the enemy submarines at sea.
Designed by Glenn Curtiss in collaboration with Navy engineers and pilots in the fall of 1917, the resulting seaplane was too late for wartime service. But its great range made this aircraft a natural for long overwater flights.[Read more…]