14 June 1963: Jacqueline Marie-Thérèse Suzanne Douet Auriol flew an Avions Marcel Dassault Mirage III R (nº 307) over a 100 kilometer course near Istres, France, at an average of 2,038.70 kilometers per hour (1,266.79 miles per hour), setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world speed record.¹
Auriol broke the record set six weeks earlier by Jackie Cochran in a Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter.²
The Mirage III R is a single seat, single-engine, supersonic all-weather reconnaissance variant of the Mirage IIIE delta-winged fighter. The nose is modified to carry five cameras. Radar and weapons were deleted.
The Avions Marcel Dassault Mirage IIIE was 15.03 meters (49. feet, 3¾ inches) long with a wingspan of 8.22 meters (26 feet, 11½ inches) and height of 4.5 meters (14 feet, 9¼ inches). The interceptor’s empty weight was 7,050 kilograms (15,543 pounds), and maximum takeoff weight was 13,700 kilograms (30,203 pounds).
The aircraft flown by Jacqueline Auriol was powered by a SNECMA Atar 09C single shaaft, axial-flow turbojet engine with afterburner. The engine used a 9-stage compressor section and 2-stage turbine. It was rated at 9,430 pounds of thrust (41.947 kilonewtons), and 13,669 pounds (60.803 kilonewtons) with afterburner. The Atar 09C was 5.900 meters (19 feet, 4.28 inches) long, 1.000 meters (3 feet, 3.37 inches) in diameter and weighed 1,456 kilograms (3,210 pounds).
The Dassault Mirage IIIE had a maximum speed of 2,350 kilometers per hour (1,460 miles per hour). Its service ceiling was 17,000 meters (55,774 feet), and its combat range was range 1,200 kilometers (746 miles).
14 June 1937: Leg 17. From Massawa, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan fly their Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, 300 miles (482.8 kilometers) down the coast of the Red Sea to Assab, Eritrea, to prepare for the next long flight to Karachi, India. They have the aircraft serviced and fueled then await the morning.
“On Tuesday, June 14, we moved down the Red Sea from Masawa to Assab to prepare for the long flight along the Arabian coast to India. Assab was nearer our objective than Masawa, offered better take-off facilities, and as well we had a greater supply of 87 Octane gasoline spotted there. Eritrea stretches along the coast of the Red Sea for 670 miles. One course took us about half that length. Soon we left behind the mountains that bordered the coast-line and bade farewell to everything that was green. Approaching Assab the coast became terribly barren beyond description. . . .” —Amelia Earhart
14–15 June 1919: Captain John William Alcock, DSC, and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, both of the Royal Air Force, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, non-stop, aboard their twin-engine Vickers Vimy F.B.27A Mk.IV biplane bomber. This was the very first successful non-stop trans-Atlantic crossing by air.
They took off from Lester’s Field, St. John’s, Newfoundland, at 16:13 GMT (about 1:45 p.m., local time) and flew 1,890 miles (3,042 kilometers) to Clifden, County Galway, Ireland. The crossing took 16 hours, 27 minutes.
They encountered heavy fog, icing, snow and severe turbulence. Four times Brown had to go out on the wings to clear snow and ice from the engine intakes.
On their arrival at Ireland, they touched down on the soft ground of Derrygimla Bog, just south of Clifden, at 8:40 a.m., and the Vimy pitched over on its nose and was damaged, but Alcock and Brown were not hurt.
The following report was published in The New York Times:
Captain Alcock’s Own Narrative of His Flight From Newfoundland to Ireland
LONDON, June 16. (By telegraph from Clifden, Ireland.) We have had a terrible journey. The wonder is that we are here at all. We scarcely saw the sun or the moon or the stars. For hours we saw none of them.
The fog was very dense, and at times we had to descend to within 300 feet of the sea. For four hours the machine was covered in a sheet of ice caused by frozen sleet; at another time the sleet was so dense that my speed indicator did not work, and for a few seconds it was very alarming.
We looped the loop, I do believe, and did a very steep spiral. We did some very comic “stunts,” for I have had no sense of the horizon.
The winds were favorable all the way: northwest and at times southwest. We said in Newfoundland we could do the trip in 16 hours, but we never thought we should. An hour and a half before we saw land we had no certain idea where we were, but we believed we were at Galway or thereabouts. Our delight in seeing Eashal Island and Turbot Island (5 miles west of Clifden) was great. People did not know who we were when we landed, and thought we were scouts on the lookout for the “Vimy.”
We encountered no unforeseen conditions. We did not suffer from cold or exhaustion except when looking over the side; then the sleet chewed bits out of our faces. We drank coffee and ale and ate sandwiches and chocolate.
The flight has shown that the Atlantic flight is practicable, but I think it should be done not with an aeroplane or seaplane, but with a flying boat. We had plenty of reserve fuel left, using only two-thirds of our supply.
The only thing that upset me was to see the machine at the end get damaged. From above, the bog looked like a lovely field, but the machine sank into it up to the axle and fell over on to her nose.
—The New York Times, 16 June 1919, Page 1, Columns 7 and 8
The construction of the Trans-Atlantic “Vickers-Vimy-Rolls” was completed at the Weybridge Aeroplane Works of Messrs. Vickers, Limited.
This aeroplane is practically similar in every respect to the Standard “Vimy” as supplied to His Majesty’s Government.
Two standard 350 hp. Rolls-Royce engines are installed. The capacity of the petrol tanks has been increased to 865 gallons, and the lubricating oil tanks to 50 gallons, and with this quantity of fuel this aeroplane has a range of 2440 miles. The maximum speed is over 100 miles per hour. The span of the “Vickers-Vimy-Rolls” is 67 feet, and overall length is 42 feet 8 inches. The width of the planes is 10 feet 6 inches. A wireless telegraphy set capable of sending and receiving messages over long distances was carried, and the pilot and navigator wore electrically heated clothing. —AIRCRAFT JOURNAL, Vol. IV., No. 25, Saturday, 21 June 1919, at Page 9, Column 3
Alcock and Brown’s airplane was a Vickers F.B.27 Mk.IV Vimy, serial number C105. The Royal Air Force registration was B9952. On 1 May 1919, it was assigned Certificate of Registration No. 18, with the civil registration G-EAAR. The owner of the aircraft was the manufacturer, Vickers Ltd. Contemporary photographs of the Vimy do not show any registration markings, however.
The Vickers Vimy F.B.27 (named after the World War I Battle of Vimy Ridge) was a twin-engine, three-bay biplane night bomber built for the Royal Air Force. Its construction was typical of the time: a wooden framework covered with fabric. The engines were in nacelles, each supported by four vertical struts, midway between the upper and lower wings. The horizontal stabilizer/elevator were also biplane, and it had two vertical fins/rudders.
The Vimy was 43 feet, 7 inches (13.284 meters) long with a wingspan of 68 feet, 1 inch (20.752 meters) and height of 15 feet, 8 inches (4.775 meters). The bomber weighed 7,104 pounds ( 3,222 kilograms) empty, and had a gross weight of 10,884 pounds (4,937 kilograms).
The Vimy was powered by two 1,240.5-cubic-inch-displacement (20.3 liter) water-cooled Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII single overhead cam 60° V-12 engines, rated at 350 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m., and 360 horsepower at 2,035 r.p.m. (five minute limit). The engines drove four-bladed, fixed-pitch, wooden propellers through a 0.60:1 gear reduction. It used four Rolls-Royce/Claudel Hobson carburetors and four Watford magnetos. Fuel consumption at normal power at Sea Level was 23 gallons (87 liters) per hour. The engine weighed 847 pounds (384 kilograms).
The Vimy had a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour) at 6,500 feet (1,981 meters) and 96 miles per hour at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). In standard configuration, the bomber had a range of 900 miles (1,448 kilometers). Its service ceiling was 7,000 feet (2,134 meters). Vimy C105 was modified by Vickers to carry 1,050 gallons (3,975 liters) of gasoline for the transoceanic flight.
After their historic flight, Captain Alcock and Lieutenant Brown were invested Knight Commanders of the Order of the British Empire by King George V. They also had won a prize of £10,000 offered by Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, owner of the Daily Mail, and which was presented to them by Winston Churchill, the future prime minister. The pilots insisted that £2,000 go to the Vickers and Rolls-Royce mechanics who had prepared their airplane.
The Vimy was repaired by Vickers and Rolls-Royce, then donated it to the London Science Museum, where it is displayed near Amy Johnson’s DH.60G Gipsy Moth, Jason. Its civil registration was cancelled in May 1920.