Long Flight

John Alcock & Arthur Whitten Brown in their flying suits, 1919
Copyright Vickers PLC

John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown were two British fliers. They were the first people to fly an aircraft non-stop across the Atlantic ocean. They made their flight in 1919. Captain John Alcock was the pilot. Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown was the navigator. Their aircraft was a Vickers Vimy, named after a battle in World War One.

Vickers Vimy, 1919.
Acknowledgements Vickers PLC

John Alcock was born in 1892 at Seymour, Old Trafford. He first became interested in flying at the age of seventeen, when the science of aviation was still a new subject. During World War One Alcock became an experienced pilot, though he was eventually 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.

Arthur Whitten Brown was born in Glasgow in 1886. He began his career in engineering before the outbreak of the First World War. Like Alcock, 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.

The story of the first direct flight across the Atlantic ocean is one of both scientific achievement and courage. A memorial statue was erected at Heathrow Airport in 1954 to celebrate their achievements.

Before the flight

By joining forces with the firm Vickers, Alcock and Brown entered the competition for the first direct transatlantic flight, set up by the Daily Mail with a prize of ten thousand pounds.

The flight

During the flight the crew suffered many hazardous conditions. There was bad fog and they had to fly through the night. They almost landed in the sea.

After the flight

When Alcock and Brown returned to Britain after their successful journey, they received a hero's welcome.

The Aircraft

The plane used was called a Vickers Vimy. It was originally designed as a bomber to be used during the First World War.


Copyright Information

The Science Museum has made all reasonable enquiries to establish the author and copyright owner of every component of the resource "Long Flight." Owners of copyright are, as far as possible, credited alongside each item. All rights reserved to the museum and copyright owners.


The Science Museum would like to thank the following for all their help, co-operation and generosity in the development of "Flights of Inspiration."

Anthony Kilminster, Allan Clarke, BBC Worldwide Library Sales, British Airport Authority, Collette Curry, Daily Mail Newspaper, Dr. Nichols (Keeper of the Vickers collection), Hulton Getty Picture Library, Newfoundland Meteorological Office, Newfoundland Museum - Canada, Nicholas Forder (Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester), Peter Elliot (RAF Museum), Royal Aero Club, The British Newspaper Library, and Vickers PLC.


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