1 September 1930: At 10:54 a.m., local time (09:54 G.M.T.), Dieudonné Costes and Maurice Bellonte ¹ took off from the Aéroport de Paris – Le Bourget, in a red Breguet Br.19 TF Super Bidon. Their destination was New York, non-stop across the North Atlantic Ocean. At 6:12:30 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, 2 September (22:12:30 G.M.T.), they landed at Curtiss Field, Valley Stream, Long Island, New York. The two aviators had flown 5,913 kilometers (3,674 statute miles, 3,193 nautical miles) in a total elapsed time of 37 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds.
More than 25,000 people, including Charles A. Lindbergh, were waiting at Valley Stream to welcome the two French aviators to America.
The Breguet Br.19 TF Super Bidon was named Point d’Interrogation (“Question Mark”—?), because one of the flight’s sponsors—the Coty fragrance company—was a mystery. The airplane is a single-engine, two-place sesquiplane: a biplane with the span of the lower wing substantially shorter than the upper. It was a specially-built long-distance racer which had made its first flight two years earlier, on 23 July 1928. Since then it had been modified from the original TR configuration by lengthening the fuselage, increasing the wing span and the vertical gap between the wings, and increasing the fuel capacity.
The Br.19 TF was 10.718 meters (35 feet, 1.2 inches) long, with an upper wingspan of 18.300 meters (60 feet, 0.5 inches) and lower span of 11.496 meters (37 feet, 8.6 inches). The airplane’s height was 4.080 meters (13 feet, 4.6 inches). The total wing area was 61.940 square meters (666.717 square feet). The Super Bidon had an empty weight of 2,190 kilograms (4,828 pounds) and gross weight of 6,375 kilograms (14,054 pounds).
Two main fuel tanks were placed between the engine and the crew’s cockpits. The tanks’ walls made up the fuselage surface in that area. The total fuel capacity was 5,570 liters (1,471 U.S. gallons), with two additional 166 liter (44 gallon) jettisonable tanks located under the lower wing. (These were removed just prior to takeoff.) The engine was provided with 220 liters of lubricating oil.
The Br.19 TF was powered by a liquid-cooled, normally-aspirated, 36.050 liter (2,199.892-cubic-inch-displacement) Société Française Hispano-Suiza 12Nb single-overhead-cam (SOHC) 60° V-12 engine, which produced 650 cheval-vapeur (641 horsepower) at 2,100 r.p.m. The direct-drive V-12 turned a two-bladed metal propeller.
The Super Bidon has a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour), and range of 6,700 kilometers (4,163 statute miles).
¹ Paris, Sept 1 (U.P.)—Dieudonné Coste and the Air Ministry have disagreed over the proper way to spell the famous flyer’s name.
Not long ago the flyer said he preferred to spell his name “Coste,” dropping the final”s.” which he used until a year ago. He signed autographs without the final “s” before departing for New York. The Air Ministry insisted, however, that the official spelling is “Costes.”
Coste’s name is pronounced to rhyme with “lost,” making the final letter silent.
Bellonte’s name is pronounced “Bell-ont,” to rhyme with “jaunt.”
7 April 1924: At 6:02 a.m., local time, Major de Infanteria aviador António Jacinto da Silva Brito Pais and tenente de Engenharia José Manuel Sarmento de Beires departed Vila Nova Milfontes on the western coast of Portugal, enroute to Macau, the Portuguese colony on the southeast coast of China. This was intended as a step toward an eventual around-the-world flight, a reminder of the Portuguese voyages of discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Their route of flight was:
Stage 1: 7 April, Vila Nova Milfontes, Portugal, to Málaga, Andalusia, Spain. 4 hours, 30 minutes (4:30).
Stage 2: 9 April, Málaga to Oran, French Algeria. 2:45.
Stage 3: 12 April, Oran to Tunis, French Tunisia. 6:50.
Stage 4: 14 April, Tunis to Tripoli, Italian Libya. 6:50.
Stage 5: 16 April, Tripoli to Al-Khums, Italian Libya. 4:00.
Stage 6: 18 April, Al-Khums to Benghazi, Italian Libya. 6:18.
Stage 7: 20 April, Benghazi to Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt. 9:15.
Stage 8: 23 April, Cairo to Riyaq, Greater Lebanon. 5:10.
Stage 9: 26 April, Riyaq to Baghdad, Kingdom of Iraq. 6:00.
Stage 10: 27 April, Baghdad to Bushehr, Persia. 6:05.
Stage 11: 2 May, Bushehr to Bandar Abbas, Persia. 4:31.
Stage 12: 3 May, Bandar Abbas to Chabahar, Persia. 3:30.
Stage 13: 4 May, Chabahar to Karachi, Sindh. 6:29.
Stage 14: 7 May, Karachi to N. 26° 13′, E. 72° 58″ (near Pipar Road, Jodhpur, Rajputana). 5:20.
On 7 May, Pátria departed Karachi (in what is now Pakistan) at 6:18 a.m., enroute to Agra, British India. During the flight, water used as engine coolant began leaking from the radiator and the engine temperature started to rise, requiring a reduction in power. Eventually, the airplane was unable to maintain altitude and the crew began a gradual descent. Near the village of Pipar Road, they sighted an open field that seemed suitable for landing. Just before touchdown the airplane was caught by a gust of wind and crashed. The crew received only minor injuries, but their airplane was heavily damaged. It was impractical to repair so far from a major city, so it was abandoned.
Brito Pais, Sarmento de Beires and Gouveia walked back to Karachi, where they continued their journey by train.
The wreck of Pátria was eventually shipped back to Portugal. Its Renault 12 Fe V-12 engine is in the collection of the Museo do Ar at Base Aérea de Sintra, Sintra, Portugal.
Several weeks later, they acquired another airplane, a 1920 de Havilland DH.9A powered by a Liberty L-12 engine, which they named Pátria II.
Pátria II could carry only two, so Gouveia had to continue by train. In 10 additional stages, Brito Pais and Sarmento de Beires finally arrived at Macau, 20 June 1924, but after overflying the city, crashed inside Chinese territory. The two aviators, again not seriously hurt, had to walk until they reached the British colony of Hong Kong. Their journey covered 16,760 kilometers (10,414 miles) in 117 hours, 41 minutes flight time.
The airplane used for the first half of this journey was an Avion Bréguet Type 16 Bn. 2 (also designated Bre. 16 Bn. 2), a military aircraft produced by France. The airplane had been purchased by the government of Portugal for a series of long-range flights based on the recommendation of Brito Pais and Sarmento de Beres, both officers in the Serviço Aeronáutico Militar, Portugal’s military air service. It was built in France by the Société Anonyme des Ateliers d’Aviation Louis Bréguet and shipped, knocked down, to Amadora, near Lisbon, where it was assembled. It made its first flight 22 September 1921.
Brito Pais named the airplane Pátria. The phrase, ESTA É A DITOSA PÁTRIA MINHA AMADA, was painted on both sides of the fuselage. This is a line from a poem, Os Luisíades, written by Luís Vaz de Camõs and published in 1572. Translated, it means, “This is my beloved Homeland.”
In November, the new airplane was seriously damaged in a storm. Repairs were not begun until June 1922. On 28 June 1923, the Bre. 16 crashed, but was again repaired and made its next flight 26 October 1923.
The Bréguet Type 16 Bn. 2 is a single-engine, two-place, three-bay biplane, designed toward the end of World War I as a night bomber. It had fixed, two-wheel landing gear with a tail skid. The Bre. 16 Bn. 2 was 9.550 meters (31 feet, 4 inches) long, with a wingspan of 17.000 meters (55 feet, 9.3 inches), and chord of 2.350 meters (7 feet, 8.5 inches). The wings were of equal span. The upper wing was staggered slightly behind lower wing. Both upper and lower wings are equipped with ailerons. The wings are swept aft approximately 3°. The lower wing has no dihedral, while the upper wing has approximately 3° dihedral. Wing area is variously reported as 72, 73.5 or 75.50 square meters (775, 791.1 or 812.68 square feet). The bomber had an empty weight of 1,268 kilograms (2,862 pounds) and gross weight of 2,398 kilograms (5,287 pounds). Bréguet informed Brito Pais and Sarmento de Beires that the Type 16’s structure was capable of safely supporting 2,719.5 kilograms (5,995.5 pounds) total weight.
The Type 16 was powered by a water-cooled, normally aspirated, 22.089 liter (1,347.973 cubic inch Renault 12 Fe, a 50° single-overhead-cam, direct-drive V-12 engine with 2 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 5.0:1. The 12 Fe produced 305 chavel vapeur (301 horsepower) at 1,550 r.p.m., and 312 chavel vapeur (308 horsepower) at 1,600 r.p.m. The engine was 2.057 meters (6 feet, 9 inches) long, 1.124 meters (3 feet, 8.25 inches) wide and 1.372 meters (3 feet, 8.8 inches) high. It weighed 369 kilograms (813.5 pounds).
The Bre. 16 Bn. 2 had a cruise speed of 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour) and maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour (99 miles per hour) at Sea Level. Its service ceiling was 4,600 meters (15,092 feet), and normal range was 900 kilometers (559 miles).
Completing a round trip flight from Paris to Hanoï, Indochine, and back to Paris, pilot Paul Joseph Codos and navigator Henri Robida flew the return leg in record time.
Departing Hanoi at 6:40 a.m., 20 January, the route of flight was Calcutta, Karachi, New Basra, Athens, Rome, Marseilles, and finally, Paris. The aviators laded at le Bourget at 3:55 a.m., 24 January.
The total elapsed time was 3 days, 5 hours, 40 minutes.¹ The distance traveled was 11,015 kilometers (6,844 miles).
Flight reported on their journey:
Last week we gave a brief account of the record-breaking flight accomplished by the French pilots Codos and Robida, when they flew from Hanoi, Indo-China, to Paris in 3 days 5 hours 40 minutes. We have now received some further details of this flight from our Paris Correspondent who writes as follows:— Leaving Hanoi at 6.40 o’clock on Thursday morning (local time) and taking advantage of the prevailing full-moon period, the airmen flew night and day, practically making stops of only sufficient time for refuelling and the examination of their passports and other papers. They thus established a new record, surpassing by 30 hours and 20 minutes the best previous time of 4 days and 12 hours made for this flight by Costes and Bellonte about two years ago. Codos declared, moreover, on his arrival that they could have gained several hours additional but for the strong head winds and rain that they encountered between Basra and Athens and further, if he could have flown directly from Athens to Paris, it would have shortened the time considerably. Owing, however to this bad weather and the necessity of taking off with a full load of fuel, Codos decided to make additional landings at Rome and Marseilles . . .
Both airmen are in the Air Union Air Line Company’s service, Codos being the Assistant Chief Pilot and Robida an engineer of that company. Enlisting in the artillery, at the age of 18, at the beginning of the world war, Paul Codos was transferred to the Aviation Service in 1917, and obtained his pilot’s brevet a year later, in 1918. At the close of hostilities he served as pilot with several air transport companies, and entered the service of the Air Union Company in 1924. He has made a specialty of night flying and piloted the initial trips between Paris and London in 1927. In company with Dieudonne Costes, Codos also took part in several long-distance closed-circuit continuous flights, about two years ago, in which world records were established. He is 35 years old and has 5,200 hours flying to his credit.
Henry Robida is an engineer pilot, in addition to being a licensed navigator. He is 30 years old and has 650 hours in the air to his credit.
With the exception of an additional fuel tank, the plane used on this flight, a “Breguet,” type 330, long-distance observation machine, was of strictly series construction. It was equipped with an Hispano-Suiza 650-h.p. 18-cylinder in-W.,² water-cooled engine of the well-known type used by Costes and Bellonte in their transatlantic flight.
The regular fuel tanks of the Breguet 330 are installed in the lower wings, and have a total capacity of 475 litres (105 gallons). The supplementary tank was installed in the fuselage between the motor and the pilot’s seat. It had a capacity of 1,400 litres (312 gallons). The plane thus had a flight radius of some 2,700 kilometres (1,700 miles) at a cruising speed of 180 km./hr. (122 m.p.h.) with the motor turning 1,640 r.p.m. The petrol consumption at cruising speed was 65 litres (14½ gallons) per 100 km. (62½ miles), with a flight radius of 15 hours.
The Breguet 330 is of the same type of construction as the well-known 270 . . .
The general characteristics of the Breguet type 330 are as follows:—
Span, upper wing, 17 m. (55 ft. 9 in.); lower wing, 17.5 m [sic] (24 ft. 6 in.). Overall length, 9.86 m. (32 ft. 4 in.). Height 3.69 m. (12 ft.) . . . .
— FLIGHT, The Aircraft Engineer and Airships, February 5, 1932, No. 1206. (Vol. XXIV. No. 6.) at Page 107.
The Breguet Bre.330 was a prototype high-altitude variant of the Breguet Bre.27. Two were built by la Société Anonyme des Ateliers d’Aviation Louis Breguet in 1930, F-AKEZ and F-AKFM. Bre.330 serial number 01, F-AKEZ, was the airplane flown by Codos and Robida. It was called a “sesquiplane” because the lower wing was approximately half the span of the upper.
The airplane was 9.85 meters (32 feet, 3¾ inches) long with an upper wingspan of 17.0 meters (55 feet, 9¼ inches), lower wingspan of 7.5 meters (24 feet, 7¼ inches) and overall height of 3.69 meters (12 feet, 1¼ inch). Its empty weight was 1,866 kilograms (4,114 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight was 3,575 kilograms (7,882 pounds).
The airplane was powered by a liquid-cooled, normally-aspirated 36.050 liter (2,199.892-cubic-inch-displacement) Société Française Hispano-Suiza 12Nb single-overhead-cam (SOHC) 60° V-12 engine which produced 650 cheval-vapeur horsepower at 2,100 r.p.m. The direct-drive V-12 turned a two-bladed metal propeller.
The Bre.330 had a cruise speed of 212 kilometers per hour (132 miles per hour) and maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour) at Sea Level. Its service ceiling was 8,250 meters (27,067 feet). Maximum range was 2,700 kilometers (1,678 miles).
¹ L’EXPRESS DU MIDI, 41° ANNEE — Nº 14.200, Lundi 25 Janvier 1932, Page 1 at Columns 6 and 7. Many sources state that the Hanoi-to-Paris flight took 3 days, 4 hours, 17 minutes.
² Although the Flight article states that the Bre.330 was powered by a Hispano-Suiza W-18 engine, every other source that TDiA has found states that it was an H-S 12Nb V-12.