The 50th Anniversary of the NC-4 Transatlantic Flight Collection [Smith] Collection contains photocopies of correspondence, published materials, maps, and photographs. The collection also includes photocopies of aircraft logs, naval ship logs, weather reports, progress reports, biographies of the participants, information on the construction of the NC Aircraft and the general planning for the flight, and original material on the thirtieth and fiftieth anniversaries of the flight.
Scope and Content Note:
This collection was gathered by Dr. Richard K. Smith of the National Air and Space Museum, in preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the NC-4's transatlantic flight. It contains photocopies from microfilm of documents found in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Record Group 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and Record Group 72, Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics. The researcher will find photocopies of correspondence, published materials, maps, and photographs. The collection also includes photocopies of aircraft logs, naval ship logs, weather reports, progress reports, biographies of the participants, information on the construction of the NC Aircraft and general planning for the flight, and original material on the thirtieth and fiftieth anniversaries of the flight.
The final box of the collection (Box 5) contains 6 reels of microfilm from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Record Groups 24 and 72 relating to the Trans Atlantic flight of the NC-4. As the processing archivist reviewed the microfilm, it appeared that many of the documents in boxes 1-4 were copied from the microfilm. These reels of microfilm are available for review upon request.
Materials are arranged by subject and then chronologically.
In 1917, the United States Navy developed specifications for a flying boat of sufficient range to cross the Atlantic to England. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, in conjunction with the Navy, developed a three-engine aircraft. The Navy intended that the flying boat would serve as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft. The first of the new aircraft, the NC-1, flew on October 4, 1918, followed by the NC-2 on April 12, 1919. Even though World War I had ended, the Navy decided to continue the program in an effort to make the first transatlantic crossing by air. As the program progressed, the NC-2 was dismantled for parts for the other NC aircraft. On May 16, 1919, the NC-1, the NC-3, and the NC-4 assembled at Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland, to begin the 1200 nautical-mile flight to the Azores. The NC-1 was forced down short of the islands and sank, but the Greek vessel, Ionia, rescued the crew. The NC-3 landed two hundred miles short and taxied the remaining distance to the islands. The NC-4 completed the flight successfully, reaching Plymouth, England via Lisbon, Portugal, on May 31, 1919. Following publicity tours of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, the NC-4 was given to the Smithsonian Institution and is a part of the National Air and Space Museum collection.
Reels of microfilm are available for review upon request.
This collection consists of five rolls of microfilm (and a Diazo copy of each roll), 93 negatives, three 8.5 by 11 inch drawings of the SPAD XI A2 (S.11 A2), three 8.5 x 11 drawings of the Salmson 2 A2, a memorandum for Lieutenant McDarment, and a copy of Burdette Wright's certificate of appointment to First Lieutenant in the Air Service. The microfilm consists of a complete set (28 volumes) of Burdette Wright's diary from April 6, 1917 to February 15, 1949. The negatives are of select images from Wright's diary.
Biographical / Historical:
Burdette S. Wright was born in New Albany, Indiana, and received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1915. He later attended George Washington University and obtained a law degree, and in 1925 received his Master's degree from Purdue. His aviation career began during World War I where he was an observer in France for the Army Air Corps. Following the war, Wright became General William (Billy) Mitchell's aide until 1922. When Mitchell was court-martialed in 1925, Wright testified in his defense. Wright set up the first system of air routes in the United States, and introduced various new features for safety and navigation. In 1928, Wright left the army and after two years of practicing law, he accepted a position with the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, of which he became president in 1933. Following the merger of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company with Wright Aircraft Company, Wright became vice president of manufacturing. Wright retired in 1950 and died in 1961 at the age of 67.
Elizabeth Burdette Wright, Gift, 1965
No restrictions on access.