Product Reviews

Published on June 9th, 2019 | by Niall Grant

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Book Review – Yesterday We Were In America by Brendan Lynch

The year is 1918. While victorious, Britain is struggling to escape the horrors and devastation brought about by the recently concluded First World War. Aviation offered that escape. Still in its infancy, the aeronautical envelop was continuously being pushed to its seemingly limits, with successful records and fatal failures occurring with alarming regularity. Following the Armistice, the Daily Mail’s owner Viscount Northcilffe promised £10,000 to the first person to successfully fly non-stop across the Atlantic.

This is a tale of perseverance in the face of adversity, courage, and some luck as the reader is transported back to 1918 as the Vickers Team is assembled and the Vimy adapted for competition. Then it’s onto Newfoundland, where we learn of the aborted attempts by the other teams in the competition. The Vickers Team was actually one of the last to arrive in Newfoundland. The history books could have been a lot different had the Handley Page team leader not insisted on their aircraft being in perfect condition – it was on a test flight when the Alcock and Brown seized their opportunity and went for it on the 14 June.

We follow our two flyers as they battle snow and ice over of the north Atlantic for some 16 hours in their open cockpit Vickers Vimy, unable to communicate to others due to a non-functioning wireless, unable to communicate to each other due to the noise from a damaged exhaust. The continuous cloud cover afforded navigator Brown only four brief breaks to obtain a fix on their position. But after some 1,900 miles and 16 hours in the air, the Co. Galway coast was sighted – they were only 20 miles north of their original planned course – before a rather agricultural landing was made close to the Marconi Wireless station near Clifden and the names Alcock and Brown entered the history books.

A highly recommended read in what is the centenary year of this epic feat of airmanship and navigation.

Yesterday We Were In America by Brendan Lynch is available in Hardback (256 pages) and published by J.H.Haynes & Co  ISBN-10: 1844256812

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