From the World War I Centennial News Podcast
100 Years Ago This Week: The Curtiss NC-4 and the First Transatlantic Flight
In May 10th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 122, host Theo Mayer recounted the story of the first transatlantic flight. American Navy pilots flying a Curtiss NC-4 made several stops on a trip that ultimately took several weeks before landing in Lisbon, Portugal. It was harrowing journey that marked a major achievement for the Navy, the nascent aerospace industry, and the United States as a whole. The following is a transcribed segment from the podcast, edited for clarity:
Theo Mayer: A big theme for this month is the role of the Navy in WWI, and in our editorial planning meetings, a '100 years ago' story jumped out that is so compelling and exciting that we thought we'd dedicate the whole segment to it. It's a story we've touched on in the past. The first successful Transatlantic plane crossing, and it happened in a US Navy flying boat known as the NC-4. So with that as a setup, let's jump into our centennial time machine and go back 100 years, as the postwar US Navy takes on the challenge of flying from the North American to the European continent.
Glen Curtiss, designer of the NC-4, was a pioneer of the American aerospace industryWe've gone back a hundred years to early May, 1919. The newspapers all over the nation, small towns and large cities alike are all tuned into a play-by-play, day-by-day drama happening along the North Eastern seaboard, a Mid-Atlantic island chain, and over to Lisbon in Portugal. The papers are telling the story of three Navy planes that are bound and determined to be the first airplanes to fly across the Atlantic. Unlike the pilots who are competing for the grand prize for the first nonstop transatlantic flight, The Navy is trying to demonstrate that their WWI-developed technology can bridge the Pacific Ocean's chasm. The plane is designed by Glen Curtiss and his team, and manufactured by the Curtis Airplane and Motor Company and is meant to serve as a US Navy submarine hunter.
Now, a crucial strategic capability for the plane's deployment in WWI, is that it needs to be able to fly itself across the Atlantic to the European theater. You see, as America deploys an unprecedented number of troops to Europe, there is simply no cargo space available on ships to transport large planes. To be viable in the conflict, those planes need to be able to get where they need to go on their own. To get across the ocean, the NC-4 sported four of the American engineered and designed 12 cylinder liberty engines. As it happens, the war ends before the plane can be put into service, but their design and capability is considered by the Navy and by Curtis to be groundbreaking. Well, maybe 'groundbreaking' is the wrong phrase because after all, it is a flying boat.
Now, the Navy wants to shed some light on what's been accomplished, and so it decides to show off it's new technology and capability by making the Navy Curtis flying boat the first plane ever to fly across the Atlantic. It's meant to be a huge public relations coup for the US Navy, Curtiss, and the fledgling American aerospace industry. To do this, three planes are designated to make the voyage: the NC-1, the NC-3 and the NC-4. Now, NC stands for Navy Curtiss, but everyone knew them as Nancy's. Okay. So, the Navy's gone all in on commitment and planning, and the multi-leg journey and adventure starts at the Naval air station at Rockaway Beach, New York, on May 8th, 1919. We're going to follow the events day by day, and it's a truly epic story.
Read more: Podcast Article - NC-4 Transatlantic flight
University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod speaks on Monday, May 20, 2019, during a rededication ceremony of "The Victory Eagle" sculpture, a World War I memorial honoring Douglas County residents who died during the war.
KU rededicates WWI memorial ‘Victory Eagle’ in new location on campus
By Dylan Lysen
via the Lawrence Journal-World (KS) newspaper web site
For the third — and likely final — time, the University of Kansas on Monday dedicated “The Victory Eagle” statue in honor of the Douglas County residents who lost their lives fighting in World War I.
“Monuments like this ‘Victory Eagle,’ commissioned to honor those from Douglas County who answered their country’s call, makes this world history our local history,” said Lorie Vanchena, who is a KU associate professor of German Studies. “Eighteen of the 68 individuals whose names appear on the plaque were KU students and alumni. So this monument makes this world history our university history.”
The university rededicated the World War I commemorative statue because it was moved to a new location on the east side of Memorial Drive in April. The statue was previously displayed on Jayhawk Boulevard near the front of Dyche Hall but was moved closer to other war memorials on campus.
The bronze eagle statue, which had been sitting in front of Dyche Hall since 1982, depicts a female bald eagle defending her nest. The sculpture was originally placed on the Douglas and Leavenworth county line in 1929 but was removed in 1980 because of vandalism. The sculpture was rededicated on KU’s campus two years later.
The KU sculpture is one of six eagle statues produced in the 1920s to be placed along “Victory Highway,” a planned roadway from New York to San Francisco that was meant to honor those who died in WWI, but the plan was never fully realized.
Read more: KU rededicates WWI memorial ‘Victory Eagle’ in new location on campus