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Alcock and Brown

Old 12th Jun 2019, 23:01
  #61 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
If anyone wants more detail about the flight read Brown's book, Flying the Atlantic in Sixteen Hours, with a Discussion of Aircraft in Commerce and Transportation available as a free PDF at:
https://ia802609.us.archive.org/30/i...00browrich.pdf
well said.
adventurous authors have created myths from this carefully written account.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 07:19
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100 years ago tomorrow (15 June) Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic. A long article in this link below by the BBC which is well worth reading. But I think Brown's navigation owed more to spherical trigonometry than calculus!
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/bM5diyl48K/alcock
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 11:06
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A and B Day

On June 14th 1919 two stout hearted and daring individuals climbed into a machine fashioned from wood, fabric, metal and the latest in human ingenuity and set out to push human achievement to another level. Roughly 160,000 combined heartbeats later they had succeeded.
There's an old saying in the flying community. Aviation is hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. I think Alcock and Brown's flight could better be described as hours of calm anxiety punctuated by terror measured in minutes, not moments. I flew airplanes for 40 years and I suppose all my anxious moments didn't add up to an hour.
Try to imagine those two, suspended in those 2000 odd miles of unexplored territory. How utterly alone they were. How removed physically and perhaps spiritually from their fellow creatures behind and ahead of them. In cloud, at night, out in the elements. Their open cockpit faintly illuminated by the instrument lighting which enabled Alcock to see the clinometer. An inverted semi circular glass tube with an air bubble which was a parody of an artificial horizon and which he had to monitor for all but the brief times when they were clear of cloud. What else enabled him to keep the Vimy on an even keel? The small pressures he felt as the machine talked to him in the new language of yaw, roll and pitch and his seat translated. All good until they hit heavy turbulence. Loss of control! In a spin. The airplane fully stalled. Descending violently but slowly. The two friends hoping for a glimpse of the ocean and enough altitude to recover. Salt spray on their lips after Alcock sorted things out. Time for one of Agnes Dooley's sandwiches and a beer.
Brown's familiarity with the stars! Something I envied the old pilots for. We navigated by beacons. NDBs, VORs. My old Captains would look outside when we broke out on top of cloud in the high Arctic. Look around at the friendly stars and nod to themselves. Nod to Brown. Nod to Magellan. A lost art which was as familiar to Brown as finding my way round my house is to me. He was out by 10 miles after 2000. That's not out. That's bang on.
I'll stretch things a bit and say they gave me a job. In the 1990s when I was flying Boeing 767s across the Atlantic I never thought much about the fact that someone had to do it first. Or else I suppose we'd still be crossing by sea. At 30 west we switched over. "Good night Gander" followed by "Hello Shanwick" on the cacophonous HF radio. We were about 4 hours out then, having departed Toronto. They would have been about 8 hours out of St.John's. Now there are thousands of people over the Atlantic every night. All slipstreaming off the Vimy.
Like Columbus, Lindbergh got the glory. Arriving in Paris 8 years later he said "Alcock and Brown showed me the way". But the press knew better. Lindy was first. Earhart was first next.
Brown hoped their flight would unite mankind and make us realize the useless "narcissism of our minor differences", as I think Frued put it. Some hope! They both knew better. Both shot down during the war. Brown's wounded leg tormenting him the whole 16 and a half hours.
But they did a grand thing. And they reminded us that there are grand things to do and with a bit of pluck, we can do them. And one day we will leave the Earth and go to Mars. And someone will have to go first. And whoever it is will be stout hearted and daring and we will be at our best through them. Just as we were at our best through Alcock and Brown.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 11:43
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Great post. Well worth remembering just what an achievement it was in 1919 and how brave Alcock and Brown were to attempt the crossing.
Sad to say my operator (on the Atlantic) failed to take any notice of it and I suspect many others too.
As we sip coffee and watch our GPS guided aircraft find their way across the pond to the first hint of dawn in the east whilst our passengers snooze we should remember who proved it could be down first.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 11:43
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You write like Ernest Gann... (Fate is the Hunter is my favourite book...)
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 12:15
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Originally Posted by Ant T View Post
You write like Ernest Gann... (Fate is the Hunter is my favourite book...)
More from Gary Hebbard here: https://aviationhistorynl.com/
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 13:13
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A very nice informative article from the BBC:
The daredevils who flew across an ocean
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/bM5diyl48K/alcock
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 13:43
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Agreed very nice post, thank you.
I almost skipped this thread thinking it would be some marketing drivel about Airbus and Boeing,
Fortunately I glanced at the 'mouse tip' preview.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 14:18
  #69 (permalink)  
 
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Amazing achievement by two incredibly brave men.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 14:34
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An excellent posting; thank you. The BBC one is good as well.

I was conducting a tour at the RAF Museum at Cosford this morning, and made a point of the fact we were standing by "Twinkletoes". I think that is as far as commemorations go. I'm not aware of anything planned in UK.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 16:20
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Great post shipiskan! Thank you.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 16:32
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Seconded - a nice bit of writing, Gary.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 16:53
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I had a very interesting visit to the RR Heritage Centre in Derby yesterday, which is home to one of their engines.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 17:28
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Great piece of writing shipiskan. An amazing feat by Alcock and Brown.
The late Steve Fossett crossed the Atlantic in a Vimy replica in 2013. On a Trans-Atlantic crossing I spoke with them briefly and relayed a position report.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 19:55
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Originally Posted by Paul852 View Post
Great post. Thank you,

Are there any commercial pilots these days who use the stars even for a basic sanity check on their heading/route?
When I joined xxx-air in the 80s there were Captains around who had been familiar with astro navigation and knew many stars still. It was nice to fly with them. Some had even been navigators in the past.
Earlier, in the xxx Force, astro was being used as a backup system (limited nav) and the Copilot did the timing, the Nav Radar the shooting while standing in centre cockpit and the Nav Plotter the calculations. These shots took a minute and averaged out the errors you could get in a single shot such as Brown was able to make - theoretically - a bit of turbulence could upset that theory though.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 21:50
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Originally Posted by bill fly View Post


When I joined xxx-air in the 80s there were Captains around who had been familiar with astro navigation and knew many stars still. It was nice to fly with them. Some had even been navigators in the past.
True, I was lucky enough to catch that generation as well as a young F/O. Some of these guys were a wealth of knowledge and would enjoy giving a young pilot an interesting lesson. Sadly, little of it stuck in my head.
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Old 15th Jun 2019, 03:20
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Does any one know whether Sir Arthur Brown's sextant still exists and if so where it is?
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Old 15th Jun 2019, 13:20
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On this 100th anniversary day I wonder what Alcock and Brown would think of this?

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Old 15th Jun 2019, 15:35
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Originally Posted by OPENDOOR View Post
On this 100th anniversary day I wonder what Alcock and Brown would think of this?
I think it would all go completely over their heads.

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Old 15th Jun 2019, 17:13
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Originally Posted by OPENDOOR View Post
On this 100th anniversary day I wonder what Alcock and Brown would think of this?

Brown had thoughts in his book on the future of aviation. He envisaged passenger travel but as he could not imagine large enough airliners he thought the future lay in airships.
Bet he would have been impressed by the nat track system, the nav and comms of today
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