The Alcock and Brown Memorial celebrates the impressive feat of Capt. John Alcock and Lieut. Arthur Whitten-Brown who on the 15th of June 1919 were the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean non-stop, and land in the Derrygimla Bog, just south of Clifden.
It took a duration of 16 hours and 27 minutes for the flight from Newfoundland to where they landed in Ireland. For the flight the men used a Vickers Vimy which was originally designed to fly on long-range bombing missions during the war. The plane was extensively modified for the journey and notably included 2 Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines to achieve a flight speed of 115 miles per hour.
Besides their great achievement and although the start of their flight was trouble-free, their flight soon after departure was beset with challenges. For the first major obstacle, their means of navigation was using a sextant (which measures the stars in relation to the horizon to determine their location) during thick fog and clouds, making their navigation very difficult. Second, their radio failed and the exhaust and silencer had disintegrated on the starboard side, contributing to the pilot’s inability to communicate.
Eventually, when the pilots made the flight to Ireland, they flew over the Marconi Wireless Station where they had tried to attract attention but failed. They also tried heading to Clifden looking for somewhere to land. They landed in the Derrygimla Bog after mistaking the bog for a smooth green landing strip.
Despite their harrowing journey, the pilots landed without any major injury and secured their achievement of being the first to fly a non-stop Transatlantic flight, nearly a decade before Charles Lindbergh flew his own historic flight, becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927.
While you visit the memorial, there are information boards you can read for more information and a table you can use for a picnic. Around the memorial, there are paths and boardwalks for you to explore the area further.
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