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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July, 2005, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Historic flight lands in Ireland
Steve Fossett and the replica Vimy
Steve Fossett recreated the first transatlantic crossing
American adventurer Steve Fossett has landed a replica vintage aircraft on a golf course in Ireland, in a recreation of an historic flight.

He and co-pilot Mark Rebholz flew from Newfoundland in a Vickers Vimy biplane, completing the trip in under 19 hours.

They followed the 1919 route of pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown from Lester's Field to Clifden, Connemara, in a 20-hour journey.

The wood and canvas plane landed at the Connemara Championship Golf Links.

During the original flight there were strong tail winds and thick cloud cover, which meant Alcock and Brown confused the sea for the horizon leaving the pair perilously close to the ocean waves at times.

The pilots flew over shipping channels because of the low altitude at which they flew and the absence of radar on board.

Had the plane ditched in the sea it was hoped they would never have been more than one hour from a ship.

The flight they re-created was born out of a challenge issued in 1913 by the owner of the London Daily Mail.

The offer was 10,000 to the first pilots who fly from North America to the United Kingdom in under 72 hours.

Replica Vickers Vimy
The flight in the replica took about 20 hours
Aviator Fossett holds world records in five activities - balloons, sailboats, gliders, airships and powered aircraft.

Rebholz was the test pilot of the Vimy certification programme, flies vintage aircraft for fun, and is a Boeing 747-400 Captain with United Airlines.

The replica Vimy previously flew a 15,000-mile journey from England to Australia in 1994, and five years later recreated the original 1920 London to South Africa flight.

The Vickers Vimy was designed as a WWI bomber.

Both flights, like the Atlantic attempt, were sponsored by National Geographic magazine.

Just after the war, Vimys made three historic "first flights", inspiring the development of long-distance aviation - the first transatlantic flight in 1919, the first England to Australia flight the same year, and the first England (London) to South Africa (Cape Town) flight in 1920.

Peter McMillan, who assembled the team that created the replica plane, said it had radiated the spirit of pioneers wherever it travelled.

"Seeing the sunrise on the hills of Ireland will be her crowning moment," he said.

Prize flights: Making aviation history
20 Jun 04 |  Science/Nature
Fossett sets solo flight record
03 Mar 05 |  Science/Nature
Profile: Steve Fossett
03 Mar 05 |  Americas


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