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It was a madcap barn-storming adventure – designed to commemorate one of the greatest aviation feats of derring-do - that not only captured the heart and imagination of a nation but created headlines around the world at the end of the Swinging Sixties.
It even played a pivotal role in Britain's vital export drive –by helping sell the then revolutionary Harrier jump jet to the Americans.
Years - May - Daily - Mail - Great
Exactly fifty years ago in May 1969 the Daily Mail launched 'The Great Transatlantic Air Race' to commemorate the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic – that took place fifty years before that - by pilots Cpt John Alcock and Lt Arthur Whitten Brown in a modified First World War open-cockpit Vickers Vimy bi-plane bomber.
And this Wednesday, surviving winners, participants, and even aircraft of that fun-filled 1969 transatlantic air race – both military and civilian - will be meeting up at Brooklands Museum in Surrey, which has close ties to both events, to celebrate the historic achievements from 50 and 100 years ago.
Daily - Mail - Supporter - Achievements - Days
It all began when the Daily Mail, a proud supporter of pioneering and record-breaking achievements from the earliest days of aviation, in April 1913 put up a £10,000 prize for 'the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours.'
The competition was suspended after the outbreak of war in 1914 but resumed after the Armistice in November 1918.
Wartime - Pilots - Alcock - Air - Crash
Wartime pilots Alcock (who died tragically in an air crash within six months of his feat) and Brown, both of whom had been prisoners during the war – took up the challenge and over June 14-15 1919 made the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in their modified...
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