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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.