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11 May 1922

97 years ago today, Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho continued their journey from Fernando Noronha, returning to Penedos, with the final destination of Recife. A journey planned to take 8 hours of flight. The preparations started at 04h00 local time, the departure was at 09h00.
At 13.35, with Penedos in sight, they reversed course and returned, to fly over Fernando Noronha, and continue (non-stop) to Recife. The weather is rainy and overcast.
At 3.35 pm, an engine failure forced them to do an emergency ditching. The mooring went well. And they prepared for a long wait.
Away from the navigation routes, they were aware that only the “Republic” could find them, many hours later. They took the point to register their position.
Lonely, slow hours, with nothing they could do except hope that the seaplane wouldn’t sink, and keep hope. And trust in a team that was looking after them: both the “República” and the Brazilian destroyer “Pará” had their search zones perfectly defined, and were already actively searching for them.
In the “República”, at 10 p.m., a warning was sent by radio to all navigation in the area:
“A hydro was in panic on the Fernando Noronha-Penedos line”.
This message is received by the ship “Paris City”, Captain A. E. Tamlyn. E. Tamlyn, who finds and rescues them at 00.35.
At 06.30, the “República” arrived and picked them up. It was not possible to save this 2nd plane, which was lost.
In recognition of the rescue, Gago Coutinho wrote every year, on Captain Tamlyn’s birthday, a letter thanking him for the rescue.
The gold cigarette case, which was given to Capt Tamlyn, can now be seen at the Air Museum in Sintra, courtesy of his family. A small diamond indicates the place where they were found.
Today, an image of a modern aircraft’s navigation radar: The Penedos-Fernando Noronha line, (about 600 km away), and the position of the emergency ditching: once again the precision of Gago Coutinho’s navigation is proven.
(Another) lesson for life: when there is nothing else we can do, we can only trust in our support team. – JMF

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