Sunday, August 26, 2007

Flying the Atlantic

In the 1920s and 30s the race to be develop transatlantic passenger flights exercised many minds. Not that everyone who saw opportunities in aviation seemed to be able to come up with sensible and workable ideas

Take Rene Fonck, a ‘French air ace’, who was obsessed with the idea of a series of floating islands that would be staging posts, every 325 miles, at which sea planes would refuel. In Scotland, the mayors of Stornaway and Campbelltown competed to become the eastern end of the transatlantic mail route. How different would life have been for these communities if technology hadn’t overtaken them?

The German’s were busy catapulting aircraft off ships in an attempt to speed up the crossing of the Atlantic by boat and then plane. Not that Britain was left behind in the eccentric ideas department. In 1937 two aircraft were built, they took off with the smaller one attached to a larger aircraft that would then ‘release’ its ‘passenger’ that would fly the rest of the way across the Atlantic. Against all the odds the idea actually worked in practice, and while it did make a few transatlantic crossings with mail events overtook its development.

1 comment:

r morris said...

There's a book here, I think.
It would have been exciting to be alive and able to afford an airline ticket in the 30's, especially on the cross-ocean routes. The Pan American China Clipper flying boat was plying the Pacific in the thirties. I'm not sure about the Atlantic as far as American airlines go.
Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze.