BANGOR, Maine — Some historic aviation artifacts landed in the Queen City on Friday morning as the Maine Air Museum accepted pieces of history from the first trans-Atlantic flight.
A ceremony was held at the Maine Avenue museum Friday to mark the donation of artifacts from the 1919 flight of the NC-4, the first plane to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean.
The artifacts were donated by Mary Rowe of Waterville, granddaughter of John G. Lyman, an aircraft mechanic who repaired the plan after a hangar fire in Rockaway, N.Y.
Rowe donated parts of the plane’s original elevator and the stabilizer earlier this year, but Friday’s ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony formally accepted them.
“It’s on permanent loan to us,” said Henry Marois, a volunteer at the museum. “When [Lyman] repaired the airplane, he took the old parts and he put them in his foot locker. She just discovered this about six months ago.”
The NC-4’s journey started in Rockaway on May 8, 1919, and landed in Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland. After subsequent repairs and weather delays, the NC-4 and three other aircraft took off on May 16 for their next stop in the Azores, and the NC-4, which was commanded by Albert C. Read, was the only plane that made it successfully.
The NC-4 arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 27, and finished its journey in Plymouth, England, on May 31.
Along with the artifacts, a display in the museum featured a map of the NC-4’s journey from Newfoundland to the Azores, an island group located about 930 miles west of Portugal’s coast.
Marios is hoping the display, along with many others in the museum, will be a hands-on educational experience.
“We want kids to become interested in aviation,” he said, “because once they become interested in aviation, that feeds into mathematics and science and technology and other things. That’s how you get kids interested.”
A model of the aircraft, which was built by Marois, hung proudly high above the center of the display. He said most of the actual airplane is in an air museum in Pensacola, Fla.
“The map was given to us by Foster Imaging,” said Marois, who spends his summers in Trenton and also has a home in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Unlike when Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic by himself in 1927, there was no big celebration for the NC-4’s crew members when they returned to the states.
In fact, in the wake of Lindbergh’s journey from New York to Paris, the NC-4’s crew slipped into obscurity.
“There were no ticker tape parades or anything when they came back. They came back and they went back to their jobs,” Marois said. “Lindbergh just had better press agents.”
The public is welcome to come and check out the NC-4’s display. The Maine Air Museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays for the remainder of the summer. For more information, visit www.maineairmuseum.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Rowe donated the plane’s propeller, engine and other equipment. Rowe donated parts of the plane’s original elevator and the stabilizer