The First Non-stop Westbound Flight over the North Atlantic

Junkers W33 – displayed at “Bremenhalle” Airport Bremen

On April 13, 1928German pilots Hermann Köhl and Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld together with their Irish co-pilot James Fitzmaurice succeeded in crossing the Atlantic from east to west in an airplane. 36 hours after their take off in Baldonnel, Ireland, they landed with their Junkers W33 aircraft called ‘Bremen‘ on the Canadian island Greenly Island.

The first trans Atlantic flights occurred in 1927 and it was Charles Lindbergh, who first managed to fly solo nonstop to Paris from the United States. Right after, Hermann Köhl decided to to cross the Atlantic Ocean from East to West. As suitable plane the Junkers W 33 was chosen. The aircraft counted as one of the most technological advanced of its time and two of this kind were bought and carried the names ‘Europa’ and ‘Bremen’. After several unsuccessful attempts due to bad weather conditions or issues on the engine the aircraft ‘Bremen’ was reconstructed and some additional measuring devices were built in. Also the next attempt was to start from Dublin, Ireland to reduce the distance. Unfortunately, German officials did not welcome this decision and obviously they highly criticized Köhl’s secret flight to Dublin, wherefore he was fired from his position at the German Luft Hansa.

However, the local Commander James Fitzmaurice decided to join Köhl and Hünefeld in order to navigate the pilots across the Ocean. The three pilots launched their journey on April 12, 1928. During the first 18 hours of flight, everything went quite normal. Then weather changed a little bit wherefore the light went off several times and navigation got difficult. Finally they flew over a snowy land area and landed after 36 hours of flight on Greenly Island. The island is usually completely covered in ice and at the time of the pilot’s arrival, around 14 people lived there. German officials as well as Luft Hansa congratulated the crew for their achievement.

The aircraft itself was sent back to Germany via a ship due to its inability to start from the icy island. Köhl was awarded for his achievement around the globe. Especially the United States appreciated his attempt and credited Köhl with bringing the nations closer together through the new established route.

In his further career, Köhl continued improving aviation technology. He established concepts of refueling planes in the air and began testing various aircrafts in concerns of safety.

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