The First Flight Across the Atlantic

The U.S. Navy achieved the first transatlantic flight eight years before Charles Lindbergh became world famous for crossing the Atlantic nonstop and alone. Three Curtiss flying boats, each with a crew of six, were involved: NC-1, NC-3, and NC-4. The Navy wanted to prove the capability of the airplane as a transoceanic weapon and technology.

The five-leg flight began on May 8, 1919, at the naval air station at Rockaway Beach, New York. It followed a route to Nova Scotia; Newfoundland; the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic; Lisbon, Portugal; and Plymouth, England. Only NC-4, commanded by Albert C. Read, flew the whole way. The entire trip took 24 days.

The NC-4 successfully concludes the transatlantic flight on May 29, 1919.

NC-1, NC-3, and NC-4 and their crews begin their journey across the Atlantic at Rockaway Beach, Long Island, on May 8, 1919.

The crew of the damaged NC-3 sailed the flying boat into Ponta Delgada, the Azores.

Navy destroyers stationed along the route guided the Curtiss flying boats on their journey across the Atlantic.

Flight crew of the NC-4, the first aircraft to successfully complete a transatlantic flight.

The NC-4 became part of the Smithsonian collection in 1927.