First aerial crossing of the South Atlantic


Primeira Travessia Aérea do Atlântico Norte: Estados Unidos – Açores – Portugal Continental – Inglaterra / Cmdt. Read / NC-4 “Liberty”

Esquema dos navios de apoio à travessia de 1919 (Crédito: wikipedia)

8 May

A squadron of three seaplanes from the United States Navy departed from Rockaway Beach in the state of New York in the United States of America, with a stopover in Halifax, Newfoundland and the Azores, supported by 21 ships from the North American Navy, placed 60 in 60 miles emitting light and radio signals to guide the devices, thus linking the United States to Europe for the first time.

27 May

A single North American seaplane Curtiss NC-4 “Liberty” landed on the Tagus River in front of the Belém Tower, completing the First Air Crossing of the North Atlantic. This mission was commanded by Captain Lieutenant Albert Cushing Read and the 2nd. Ten. Elmer F. Stone and Walter Hinton, mechanic Eugene T. “Smokey” Rhoads, and radioman Herbert C. Rodd. They were received by Captain Lieutenant Sacadura Cabral at the Bom Sucesso Maritime Aviation Center.


The Vickers “Vimy” taking off from Newfoundland – a difficult take-off, in which the journey was almost over. Credit: Wikipedia

First non-stop air crossing of the North Atlantic / John Alcock and Arthur Brown / Vickers “Vimy”

16 June

British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the First Air Crossing of the North Atlantic, without stopping. They flew in a modified Vickers Vimy plane. They left St. John’s, Newfoundland, and arrived in Ireland, in Clifden, Galway. They won the Daily Mail award for the “first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, in an airplane, in less than 72 consecutive hours”.

Flight attempt Lisbon – Madeira / Sarmento Beires and Brito Pais / Breguet 14 A2 “Black Knight”

G.E.A.R – “República” Aviation Squadron Group, based in Amadora, in the current facilities of the Military Academy. (Credit: From Portugal to Macau, Sarmento Beires)

20 October

A Breguet 14 A2 plane, known as the “Black Knight”, took off from Amadora and was destined for Madeira Island, manned by Army soldiers Sarmento Beires and Brito Pais. They did not reach their destination, having been saved by the ship “Gambia River”.


Lisbon – Madeira Trip / Sacadura Cabral, Ortins de Bettencourt, Gago Coutinho and Roger Soubiran / Fairey “Felixtowe” F-3

Chegada à Madeira. A amaragem foi feita pelo piloto Ortins de Betencourt.

22 March

Sacadura Cabral as commander and pilot, first lieutenant naval pilot Ortins de Bettencourt as second pilot, Gago Coutinho as navigator, and the Frenchman Roger Soubiran as mechanic, made the first air trip Lisbon – Funchal, covering 983 kilometers in 7 hours and 40 minutes , using the latest equipment, thus proving the effectiveness of air navigation methods.

A Fairey “Felixtowe F-3” seaplane #N4018 was used, equipped with two 350 HP Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, 8 cylinders in V and four-blade wooden propellers, received from Great Britain in 1920.

The return to Lisbon on April 6th was made aboard the destroyer “Guadiana”, as when trying to take off from Porto Santo Island, the hull of the seaplane suffered a breach, causing the signaling buoys on board to catch fire, which resulted in the destruction of the plane, thus putting an end to all opportunities for it to be used to cross the South Atlantic.


A Travessia

The 1922 crossing had to overcome the challenges of crossing the Atlantic using an open-cockpit plane, during long stages and in a humanly aggressive environment.

Only the courage and determination of Sacadura Cabral – the plane’s only pilot – and the knowledge and experience of Gago Coutinho – navigator – allowed them to succeed.

Both belonged to the Naval Aviation, of the Portuguese Navy.

The “Big jump”, the stage between S. Tiago (Cape Verde) and the Penedos of São Pedro and São Paulo, of 1,682 km, took 11h21m. It was especially demanding on the aviators, who trusted their lives to the certainty of the navigation method invented by Gago Coutinho.

The crossing was made without radio support, on the “Lusitânia”, and without support from surface ships to mark its route, unlike other previous crossings in the North Atlantic.

UNESCO inscribed the Report of the 1st Air Crossing of the South Atlantic in the Memory of the World Register on July 27, 2011, which from this date onwards is considered a World Heritage Site.


Preparação da 1ª Volta ao Mundo, em Avião

Sacadura Cabral, planned a trip around the world by plane, departing and arriving in Lisbon, in the opposite direction to Fernão de Magalhães’ trip. No one had yet crossed the Pacific Ocean by air.

For this purpose, 5 Fokker T III seaplanes were purchased in the Netherlands for Naval Aviation.

One of these devices had a 1820-liter tank, which offered more autonomy, compared to the standard version, which had a 1200-liter tank. Cabral intended to use the device with more autonomy for the last stages of the route, over the Pacific.

It was in one of these Fokker #4146 devices, that on November 15, 1924, on a flight from Amsterdam to Lisbon, Sacadura Cabral and the mechanical cable Pinto Correia, disappeared in the North Sea, for reasons still unknown today.


Portugal – Macau connection / Brito Pais, Sarmento de Beires and Manuel Gouveia / “Pátria I” and “Pátria II”

The first air connection between Portugal and Macau began in Vila Nova de Milfontes on April 7, 1924, in a Breguet 16 B2 plane, named “Pátria 1”, with a 300 HP Renault engine. The trip made by Sarmento Beires, Brito Pais and Manuel Gouveia.
Due to bad weather conditions, the plane suffered irreparable damage in the Thur desert, India. It was replaced by a De Havilland Liberty plane, a 400 HP DH9 purchased in India (and acquired thanks to contributions from the Portuguese population, in a broad popular campaign) and named “Pátria II”, thus completing the journey to Macau.

To know more:

António Jacinto da Silva de Brito Pais

José Manuel Sarmento de Beires


Raid Lisbon – Guinea (Bolama) / Pinheiro Correia / “Santa Filomena”

On March 27, 1925, the Raid Lisboa – Guinea (Bolama) began with Pinheiro Correia (pilot), Manuel António (mechanic) and Sérgio da Silva in the Breguet 14 named “Santa Filomena”, equipped with a Renault engine of 300 HP. They land in Bolama on April 2nd.


Travel Spain – Argentina / “Plus Ultra”

The “Plus Ultra” expedition made the first transatlantic flight between Spain and South America in January 1926, with a crew of Spanish aviators, which included: Ramón Franco, Ruiz de Alda Miqueleiz, Juan Manuel Duran, and Pablo Rada. It was taken on a Dornier Do J Wal seaplane.

The “Plus Ultra” departed Palos de la Frontera, in Huelva, Spain, on January 22nd and arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 19th. He made stops in Gran Canaria, Cape Verde, Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco (Recife), Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. The 10,270 km journey was completed in 59 hours and 39 minutes.


First Night Aerial Crossing of the South Atlantic / Sarmento de Beires / “Arguos”

On March 2, 1927, another great transatlantic journey began in Alverca, on the Tagus River, initially planned with the purpose of carrying out the circumnavigation trip, designed by Sacadura Cabral.
Sarmento Beires as commander, Duvalle Portugal as 2nd pilot, Jorge de Castilho as navigator, and Ensign Manuel Gouveia as mechanic, took off in a Dornier J Wal seaplane, named “Argos”, equipped with a 450 HP twin engine, heading to Brazil, using only the means of astronomical navigation with a sextant modified by Jorge de Castilho, where he applied an innovative lighting system.

On March 16, 1927, the great historic feat of the “First Night Aerial Crossing of the South Atlantic” began, connecting Bubaque in Guinea, landing in Santo António Bay on Fernando Noronha Island in Brazil, the following day, March 17, 1927, covering 2595 kilometers in 18 hours and 11 minutes at a speed of 103 km/hour.

The immediate return was suggested by the Portuguese Government via Cape Verde and Madeira. Due to bad weather conditions, Sarmento Beires was advised by Gago Coutinho to return via North America, Newfoundland and the Azores.

The return journey began on June 1st, taking off from Belém do Pará, heading to the Guianas, rounding Cape North. Due to several incidents, including the rupture of a wing caused by an inspection cover that came off in mid-flight and the fracture of one of the “Argos” floats, led to the sinking and loss of the aircraft. The crew was picked up by a fishing canoe.
On June 27th, Sarmento Beires, Jorge Castilho and Manuel Gouveia arrived in Lisbon aboard the ship “Hildbrand”.


João Ribeiro de Barros / “Jahú”

João Ribeiro de Barros, Brazilian aviator, accompanied by Arthur Cunha (in the first phase of the crossing) and later João Negrão (co-pilots), Newton Braga (navigator), and Vasco Cinquini (mechanic), attempted to fly across the South Atlantic on the Savoia-Marchetti S.55 “Jahú” seaplane,
The journey began in Genoa (Italy) on October 17, 1926, making stops in Spain, Gibraltar, Cape Verde, Fernando Noronha, Natal (May 14, 1927), Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, and finally , São Paulo (in August 1927).

This trip was only possible due to the iron determination of João Ribeiro de Barros, and a telegram received from his mother, in Las Palmas, on November 7, 1926, when everything seemed lost:



To know more:

João Ribeiro de Barros


Crossing the North Atlantic alone – Charles Lindbergh / “The Spirit of Saint Louis”

From the 20th to the 21st of May 1927, Charles Lindbergh, solo, carried out the first “Solo Aerial Crossing of the North Atlantic”, connecting Roosevelt Airfield, Long Island, in New York in the USA, to Le Bourget airport in Paris, France. . Lindbergh’s flight lasted 33 hours and 31 minutes.

To know more:


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