Crossing Of The Atlantic 1919, Part III

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NC-4 in flight. (Photo US Navy)

On 27 May 1919, LCDR Read resumed his flight with NC-4 to Europe and took off from the Azores for Portugal. The overall commander of the attempt to cross the Atlantic was LCDR Towers.  He could have opted to take command of NC-4 since his aircraft NC-3 had been damaged back on 17 May, but he opted to get to Europe via ship and allowed LCDR Read to have the hard-earned honor of the finishing leg. The crew of NC-4 with LCDR Read were  LT James L. Breese,  LTJG Walter Hinton, Chief Machinist’s Mate Eugene S. Rhoads, ENS Herbert C. Rodd and LT Elmer Stone, USCG.

NC-4 water taxis in Lisbon harbor, Lisbon, Portugal, 28 May 1919. (Photo US Navy)

Launching the next day from Lisbon, NC-4 would have a few more oil leak problems and would land near Figueire, Portugal, and at Ferrol, Spain, before finally making it to Plymouth, England, on 31 May 1919. The Lord Mayor of Plymouth received LCDR Read and the crew of NC-4 at the slab in Plymouth that commemorated the sailing of the Pilgrims 300 years earlier.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels congratulates LCDR Read on his transAtlantic crossing in the NC-4 aircraft in May 1919 (Standing behind are LCDR Bellinger and CDR Towers, to the right is Asst. SecNav Franklin Roosevelt). (Photo credit- Bettmann/CORBIS)

Brought home by ship the NC-4 would next be launched on a recruiting flight for the Navy. In four months from September to December 1919, she would visit 43 cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and flew up the Mississippi River to Cairo, Illinois.

All aviators involved in the transatlantic attempt received the Navy Cross from the United States Navy or Coast Guard. Several foreign military awards including the Order of the Tower and Sword from Portugal and the United Kingdom’s Distinguished Flying Cross were also presented to them. A decade later the United States Congress commissioned a unique medal to award to the crew. The gold medal contained the image of a seagull flying above ocean waves on one side, while the opposite side pictured below includes the names of the NC-4’s crew as well as that of Commander John H. Towers, the overall commander of the three NC flying boats that attempted to complete the transatlantic crossing.

(Photo National Naval Aviation Museum)

Today NC-4 is on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, as seen below.

(Photo National Naval Aviation Museum)

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