Monday 26 September 2016

Flashback: Amazing photos show thousands of people on O’Connell Street for transatlantic celebrations on this day in 1928

Published 04/07/2016 | 17:31

(Part on the Independent Ireland Newspapers/NLI Collection)
Large crowd on O'Connell Street, Dublin, outside Clerys. Banner reads
(Part on the Independent Ireland Newspapers/NLI Collection) Large crowd on O'Connell Street, Dublin, outside Clerys. Banner reads "Through blizzard and cold they blazed the trail". Published: July, 1928.
Breman Crew L-R: Baron Ehrenfried Günther von Hünefeld, Col J. Fitzmaurice and Capt Koehl.(Part of the Independent Ireland Newspapers/NLI Collection)
A Guard of Honour by the Railway Hotel and on the adjoining street, huge crowds take up every available standing space. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)
The three members of the Bremen crew, standing in open-topped car, L-R: Herman Kohl, James Fitzmaurice and Baron von Hunefeld. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)
Bremen Flight 1928. Motorcade, O'Connell St. with Bremen crew in front car. A 'Cead Mile Failte' banner is partially visible. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)

On this day in 1928 thousands of people descended on O’Connell Street to welcome the three pilots who had made the first ever transatlantic flight.

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Pilots had been trying throughout the 1920s to make the crossing, and in 1927 two German pilots Baron Gunther Von Hunefeld and Captain Hermann Koehl had set their sights on the prize.

Baldonnel Aerodrome, south of Dublin, was an appealing departure spot due to its proximity to the Atlantic. After gaining permission from the Irish government their plans were in full swing when the third and final pilot joined their troupe.

Ireland's answer to Amelia Earhart, James Fitzmaurice was a pioneering figure in the world of aviation.

A Guard of Honour by the Railway Hotel and on the adjoining street, huge crowds take up every available standing space. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)
A Guard of Honour by the Railway Hotel and on the adjoining street, huge crowds take up every available standing space. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)

After fighting in World War 1 he joined the RAF and spent several years flying around the world until he signed up with the new Irish Army Air Service. As commanding Officer at Baldonnel, in 1927 he had made an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Atlantic. Six months later, he was on board the Bremen with Von Hunefeld and Koehl. A Junkers W.33, the Bremen aircraft was filled with enough fuel to last 44 hours in preparation for their trip.

In the lead up to the flight many trial runs were taken and the departure date was continually set back due to bad weather. With the forecast on their side, April 12 1928 was decided upon and thousands of people made their way to Baldonnel to cheer on the New York bound flight.

Breman Crew L-R: Baron Ehrenfried Günther von Hünefeld, Col J. Fitzmaurice and Capt Koehl.(Part of the Independent Ireland Newspapers/NLI Collection)
Breman Crew L-R: Baron Ehrenfried Günther von Hünefeld, Col J. Fitzmaurice and Capt Koehl.(Part of the Independent Ireland Newspapers/NLI Collection)

The next 36 hours of flying were dramatic to say the least, with an oil leak and heavy fog forcing the pilots to eventually land on a small patch of land in the Strait of Belle Isle.

A remote island, it was worlds away from downtown Manhattan but nevertheless the Atlantic had been traversed and trip deemed a success.

The three members of the Bremen crew, standing in open-topped car, L-R: Herman Kohl, James Fitzmaurice and Baron von Hunefeld. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)
The three members of the Bremen crew, standing in open-topped car, L-R: Herman Kohl, James Fitzmaurice and Baron von Hunefeld. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)

In the weeks following the pilots were celebrated throughout the United States, with millions turning out in New York to celebrate their achievement.

They arrived back in Dublin on July 3 with the scenes captured here greeting them on arrival.

Bremen Flight 1928. Motorcade, O'Connell St. with Bremen crew in front car. A 'Cead Mile Failte' banner is partially visible. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)
Bremen Flight 1928. Motorcade, O'Connell St. with Bremen crew in front car. A 'Cead Mile Failte' banner is partially visible. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection)

Baldonnell was swamped with thousands of cheering people who carried the pilots on their shoulders as they left their aircraft.

The Irish Independent reported that women fainted on O’Connell Street and the Gardai struggled to keep back the surging crowds.

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