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In the summer of 1919, two WWI flying aces climbed into the open cockpit of a converted bomber aircraft, a Vicker’s Vimy, and embarked on the world’s first non-stop transatlantic flight. Sixteen gruelling hours later they touched down on the west coast of Ireland and entered the history books.
This is a drama documentary chonicling the remarkable achievement of Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown. It tells the story of this unlikely pair of heroes, a navigator and a pilot, who met just six weeks before the flight during a chance encounter. Sharing a love of flying, a thirst for honour and galvanised by a substantial reward, they formed a bond of friendship that was tested to its limits during their perilous journey. Together they endured fog, hail and snowstorms. Midway through, one of the engines caught fire and Brown was repeatedly forced out onto the wing to clear ice from the air inlets.
As conditions worsened, Alcock fought to regain control when rough weather caused the plane to plunge from 4,000 to just 16 feet above the churning ocean – close enough to taste the salt spray. Using log books, diaries and contemporary reports, the film captures a vanished world of aerial adventure when nations vied to set ever more ambitious records, just 15 years after the Wright brothers’ first powered flight. Alcock and Brown received a hero’s welcome back in Britain and a knighthood from King George V. They proved in Alcock’s words, "That there are possibilities of flying between the New and Old worlds" and ushered in the age of transatlantic flight.
Their story is interwoven with the story of Sefton Potter and Paul Lomatschinsky who retrace Alcock and Brown’s pioneering flight in a modern Diamond DA42 Twin Star. Unlike these latter day enthusiasts though, Alcock and Brown did it with no instruments, no navigational aids and sometimes upside down.