April 12th, 1928 – Germans Fly Over the Atlantic

On April 12th, 1928, the Bremen, a German Junkers W 33 type aircraft, takes off for the first successful transatlantic aeroplane flight from east to west.

Junkers_aircraft_Bremen

The Bremen is a German Junkers W 33 aircraft that made the first successful transatlantic aeroplane flight from east to west between April 12th and 13th, 1928.

The Bremen left Baldonnel Aerodrome, Ireland on April 12th and flew to Greenly Island, Canada, arriving on April 13th, after a flight fraught with difficult conditions and compass problems. The crew consisted of pilot Captain Hermann Köhl, the navigator, Major James Fitzmaurice, and the owner of the aircraft, Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld.

When the Bremen landed on Greenly Island, the first Canadian aircraft to reach the scene was piloted by Duke Schiller and the second machine was flown by the Canadian Transcontinental Airways Company‘s Chief Pilot – Romeo Vachon who arrived two days later with a group of media representatives. Both Schiller and Vachon were flying Fairchild FC-2W machines; G-CAIQ (Schiller) and G-CAIP (Vachon). Gretta May Ferris, a nurse from Saint John, New Brunswick who was posted at nearby Forteau’s Grennfell Medical Station, travelled by dogsled some 15 miles (24 km) to attend to the crew’s medical needs; she was the first to write the story that was picked up by the international media saying that the Bremen had landed and that the crew were safe.

The clock in the lighthouse was remembered (by the family of the lighthouse keeper) as indicating 2 p.m. Atlantic Time when the Bremen was first sighted from the ground. Captain Köhl and Baron von Hünefeld said that they were in the air 36½ hours. If their statements of elapsed time had an accuracy of better than one minute, which is unlikely, then the time of touchdown was 18:08 GMT or 13:08 EST or 14:08 Atlantic Time.

Alfred Cormier of Long Point (Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon), who operated the local telegraph office from his home, made contact with Marconi station VCL at Point Amour in Labrador—18 miles (29 km) east of Long Point. From there, his message went through St. John’s, Newfoundland (at 6:30 p.m.) and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. It was forwarded by land lines across Canada and via Radio Corporation of America (RCA) station WCC at Chatham, Massachusetts, for transmission to New York City.

The first message read: “German plane at Greenly Island, wind southeast, thick.”

A short time later, a second message was sent: “German plane Bremen landed Greenly Island, noon, slightly damaged, crew well.”

By 7:15 p.m., the story was in all the newsrooms of the eastern seaboard.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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