Leaving from Lisbon’s Tejo River, the aircraft christened Lusitânia, a single-engine hydroplane specially designed for the occasion, made the first flight connecting Portugal to Brazil in 1922
Air Force Agency by Lieutenant Marayane And Major Oliveira Lima
A milestone for world air navigation turns 100 years old in 2022. From March 30 to June 17, 1922, Portuguese aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral undertook the First Air Crossing of the South Atlantic. Leaving from the Tagus River, in Lisbon, the aircraft christened Lusitânia, a single-engine hydroplane specially designed for the occasion, made the first flight connecting Portugal to Brazil, thus repeating, through the air, the sea voyage made by Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, a few centuries earlier.
In all, the air mission lasted 62 hours and 26 minutes, covering some 8,300 kilometers, making stops in Las Palmas, Gando, São Vicente, São Tiago, Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo, Fernando de Noronha, Recife, Salvador, Porto Seguro, Vitória and, finally, Rio de Janeiro, which at the time was the Brazilian capital.
The trip represented an invaluable contribution to aviation, since until then long-distance travel made it difficult to stay on course. To overcome the obstacle, the duo found, with genius, an unprecedented solution. After intense studies and his knowledge of geography and cartography, Admiral Gago Coutinho perfected the nautical sextant, adapting it to aviation. In partnership with Sacadura Cabral, he developed an equipment called “Course Corrector”, which allowed him to plot the airplane’s drift and calculate the true course, with excellent accuracy.
The beginning of the South Atlantic Air Crossing project took place in 1919, during the visit of the President of Brazil to Portugal, when Sacadura Cabral launched the idea of celebrating the first centenary of Brazil’s independence.
The following year, in 1920, Sacadura Cabral was in England, acquiring material for the Portuguese Naval Aviation and listing the types of aircraft considered ideal for the Atlantic crossing. Thus, his choice pointed to the English manufacturer Fairey, builder of the F III-D aircraft.
Fairey had already designed a seaplane with similar characteristics to the one Sacadura Cabral was looking for, i.e. a modified F III-D adapted for a trans-oceanic voyage, with a wider wingspan and additional fuel tanks on the main floats. Sacadura Cabral oversaw the construction and modification of the plane, which, after difficult experiments and readjustments, was ready almost at the end of 1921.
*** Translated by DEFCONPress Team ***