2004-05-07 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Early Naval Aviators Were Also Sailors On The Open Sea in 1919

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Early Naval Aviators Were Also Sailors On The Open Sea in 1919


Many photographs of the NC-4 or Nancy Four, or Navy Curtiss Four have been published in The Wave’s Historical Views column over the years, simply because the NC-4 was the first to fly the Atlantic, achieving that feat in May of 1919.

Three planes started the flight, which originated at Rockaway Naval Air Station, now Riis Park. NC-1, and NC-3, were forced down at sea by heavy weather and fog.

NC-1 and crew were rescued by a nearby freighter, and the plane taken in tow. The tow failed due to high seas, and NC-1 took the deep six.

NC-3 and crew, in the best traditions of the United States Navy, sailed their worthy craft to Ponta Delgada, in the Azores; a group of volcanic islands off the coast of Spain.

There are no photographs of NC-1 in tow by the rescuing ship, but a few shots of damage to the NC-3 were found, by yours truly, in his wanderings in and around the postcard collector’s world.

Today’s Historical Views shows the damage to the starboard outboard engine and wing section of the historic seaplane.

Most of the lower wing fabric is gone, and the Liberty Engine’s metal cowling has been sheared off, giving an example of what wind and wave can do on the high seas. The same type of damage was incurred on the port lower side of the flying boat. The well made American hull of the craft held up well, and kept NC-3 afloat. Instead of flying in, the crew sailed her into port for a hearty ‘well-done’ reception. It was said that Aurora, the Goddess of flight and King Neptune, the God of the sea rendered a hand.


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