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1922: Primeira Travessia Aérea do Atlântico Sul – por Sacadura Cabral e Gago Coutinho

“Porto Praia – S Pedro and S Paulo leg

At 4:30 a.m. on the morning of April 18, we started to drain the water on the floats […]”

We will dedicate this day to the reconstitution of the “Great Jump” between Cape Verde and the Penedos de S. Pedro and S. Paul – tiny rocks, lost in the middle of the South Atlantic, 1600 km from Cape Verde.

This leg will take 11H21 minutes to travel; to get there before dark it was necessary to leave Cape Verde very early.

Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho have been in Cape Verde since April 5, 1922, waiting for a favourable time for the departure for the “Grande Salto”. They arrived in Mindelo, and decided to leave from the island of Praia, to have better conditions for take-off.

“[…] and at 5 h. 15 m. the engine is started, hydroplaning to take position the SW of the Temerosa Bridge, to drop over the low land of this bridge.

I make two races without result: enough swell and very weak NNE wind.

As it is already late, I give up to leave and go back inside, but seeming that there was now a little more wind, I give a third race, already inside the harbour, and the hydro takes off at 5 h. 55 m. [07H55 TMG]

I’ll turn around before I get to earth and get on my way. Weak NNE wind, clear skies, but greyish weather and short horizons. “

Photo Credit: Attila Marosi from Pixabay Ver menos

  · 18 de abril de 2020 ·

This 18th of April, in 1922, during the 1st South Atlantic Air Crossing, in a “Transatlantic” Fairey Biplane – between Cape Verde and the Penedos de S. Pedro and S. Paulo (continuation):

“I start using gas from the float tanks and 8 that is, two hours away, I see with surprise that they are completely exhausted, I have no more than 195 gallons [886 litres] of petrol in the fuselage tanks, or less than 10 hours of flight !

The wind starts slowing down and I’m very worried about, the gas consumption is at least 20 gallons [91 litres] per hour! Exchange with Commander Coutinho examining our situation and looking at the chance to come back.

We should be 690 miles (1278 km) from the Penedos and we don’t have more than 8 hours of gas!

The logical thing would be to go back […]

I confess that, for me, was the most bitter part of the Lisbon-Rio air travel, because for nine and a half hours I always lived in the uncertainty of having enough gas to reach the terminus. […]

And so, it would be to demonstrate what we wanted to prove, that is, that air navigation is susceptible to the same precision as maritime navigation!!

After a lot of hesitation and a lot of discussion – which is time, because we could only communicate our impressions – we decided to continue!”

From: “Report on the First South Atlantic Air Crossing”, by Sacadura Cabral e Gago Coutinho, 1922.

(This story to be continued today, till the end of this journey).

” At 14 pm. 30 m. paint a few “salseiros” [rain] and the sky is lined, with an equatorial aspect.

The hydro continues with a sharp tendency to “pitch up” forcing me   to a continuous and fatiguing effort to keep it in the flight line.

At 16h., we run out of petrol from the main tanks and only 24 gallons [110 litres] are left in the gravity tank [on the upper wing], that is enough for about an hour and a quarter flight.

Shortly after, the sun appears, and we can make [astronomical] observations. We take the “altura” line [height line] that passes in the Penedos, and we follow it.

Now, when it comes, it’s a question of whether or not we have enough petrol and so we carry on, always with this concern. […] “

We now give the word to the Commander Gago Coutinho, in a conference that gave the students of the Francisco de Arruda Preparatory School in 1956 (and that gave an excellent play for young people).

It also shows what we know: that the official reports don’t always report everything that has happened… “[…] [Former] Experience [ the Lisbon-Madeira Island flight, in 1921] had proved  that navigation would not fail us and therefore we would be sure of the position on the line that

joined the point of departure to the point of arrival.

We trusted that if we had to alight at sea, not far from the point of arrival, at dusk, the ship that was waiting for us at the Rocks, setting sail north, would find the Plane, hearing shots from our signal pistol.

In the middle of the flight, the wind pumps [which brought fuel to the engine] broke down; the Navigator had to replace them, handing over the pump.

So, they were raised, from the floats to the tank on the plane, about 500l of gasoline.

This little talked about detail, effectively contributed so that the flight, not failing, could give much joy to the Portuguese people … “

(This story to be continued today, till the end of this journey).

Extracted from: Travel Report, by Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho, 1922.

Photo Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, from Pixabay; JMF

“[…] Passadas 11h e 21 minutos de voo, a gasolina estava a acabar.

O Penedo — umas pedras pouco elevadas — só se pode avistar muito de perto, dos 300 metros de altura a que voávamos.

Porém, ao poisarmos junto dos escaleres que o República tinha na água — agitada por “ondulação larga”, o avião “Lusitânia” perdeu um dos flutuadores, que se desfez por ser de madeira podre.

O que nos surpreendeu porque, após os 1600 Km de voo sem apoio, queimados os nossos 700 Kg de gasolina, o Avião ia leve.

Nem ao menos foi possível salvar o fiel motor [Roll-Royce Eagle VIII], que nos levara àquelas insignificantes pedras!

Elas já eram terra brasileira, embora inabitável.

Tinha-se repetido a prioridade portuguesa, quatro séculos e meio depois de as nossas Caravelas terem cortado o Equador.

E levávamos pintadas nas asas a mesma “Cruz vermelha de Cristo” com que nossos “Caravelistas” devassaram – como o cantou Camões – “aqueles mares” e “os novos Ares que o generoso [Príncipe] D. Henrique [ o Navegador] descobriu”.

Por outro lado, aqueles que no Penedo nos esperavam a bordo do Cruzador República, pairando, informados pelo rádio sobre a nossa partida de Cabo Verde, tinham vivido todo aquele dia sobressaltados, na ignorância do que se vinha passando a bordo do Avião…

Até que, ao fim da tarde, ao avistarem-nos no céu, a Norte, tiveram extraordinária comoção de surpresa e prazer.Simples geógrafos tinham demonstrado ao Mundo a possibilidade de atravessar os Ares

com a mesma segurança e autonomia com que faziam os Navios. “

Infelizmente, o Lusitânia perdeu-se na amaragem, devido à vaga. Mas a viagem não terminou.

O apoio entusiástico dos Portugueses, Brasileiros e Cabo-Verdianos permitiu que a viagem continuasse: encontraram-se fundos e apoios para a continuação da viagem.

Os grandes jornais realizaram campanhas de recolhas de fundos, para a continuação desta maravilhosa aventura que uniu irmão separados por um Atlântico-Sul.

A descrição da Travessia vai continuar, até 17 de Junho, data de chegada ao Rio de Janeiro. – Acompanhe, e espero que aprecie! – JMF

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