The year, 1910. The aircraft: Airship America.
It was over a century ago that the first attempt to hop the pond was undertaken by Airship America.
This beauty was the brainchild of Mutin Goddard. The airship was 165 ft (50 m) long and 51 ft 10 in (15.80 m) wide. Mutin had gotten the idea for an airship while attempting to cross the pond in a ship in 1894.
Over a period of years and failed tests, America finally took flight. Not wasting any time, Mutin attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean to get to the North Pole. However, bad weather halted and shot down his ideas. Literally and Figutively America then had to return for repairs. Today, 109 years ago, America took off from Atlantic City to hop the pond. It was transported by boat to Atlantic for anyone wondering. Things started off rocky, with the airship struggling to gain altitude due to condensing water on the skin of the balloon.
The engines later failed, 38 hours into the flight. One was successfully started, while another was dead in its tracks.
The crew jettisoned all excess weight, including the dead engine and continued on. Straight into a storm. The craft had drifted south of Nova Scotia and was continuing to drift. However, it soon straightened out and continued on.
Another 33 hours into the flight, the occupants of America sighted RMS Trent. After signaling the ship with a signal lamp that was flashing morse code. The crew sent out a final emergency distress signal on their radio. America docked (or attached) to Trent near Bermuda. The crew and their mascot/cat Kiddo boarded a life raft. Shortly before doing so, they had turned the gas valves on.
After abandoning ship, they all watched as America drifted off into the sea, never to be seen again. The possible wreckage of the aircraft has still never been found. It most likely never will. The crew was later returned to New York.
The true first hopping of the pond would come 9 years later. With the legendary Spirit Of St. Lewis. However, this tale serves to show previous attempts to hop the pond. As well as one of the interesting tales of early human aviation.
So next time you fly a pond hopper, think about this tale and where it has brought you now. Mutin may have not done it, but he set the scene for advancement and trial and error. In a way, he got us to where we are now. So please, thank him for helping us advance.
All info and images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia, the article can be found here