How long did it take to make the first east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic by air?
108 Hours, 12 minutes (4 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes)
To the members of her crew, His Majesty’s Airship R34 was known as ‘Tiny’. That’s because the ship was enormous: Her overall length from bow to stern was 643 feet, twice as long as a football field; her maximum diameter was 79 feet and her overall height just short of 92 feet. R34 made her first flight on March 14, 1919.
At 1:42 AM, R34 left Britain on 2 July 1919 headed for Mineola, Long Island. R34 had never been intended as a passenger carrier and extra accommodation was arranged by slinging hammocks in the keel walkway. Hot food was provided by cooking on a plate welded to the engine exhaust pipe.
One of the crew members scheduled to stay behind to save weight, stowed away with the crews’ mascot, a small tabby kitten called “Whoopsie”; they emerged at 2.00 p.m. on the first day, too late to be dropped off.
Because the landing party in Long Island had no experience of handling large rigid airships, Major EM Pritchard jumped by parachute as the Airship arrived and circled overhead and so became the first person to reach American soil by air from Europe.
The R34 landed at 9:54 am after 108 hours 12 minutes flying time. There were 140 gallons of fuel left on board, which was sufficient only for another 2 hours flying at reduced power.
The ship was only in America for 3 days. As with the flight to America, the R34 would be gassed to capacity again, and await the coolest part of the day to depart, and so the ship was finally launched at 6 minutes to midnight on Wednesday July 10th. The return journey took three days three hours and three minutes. The ship had traveled some 7,420 miles on this voyage at an average speed of 43 mph.
Lots more information is at http://www.airshipsonline.com/airships/r34/R34-Altanticflight.html
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