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S. Atlantic Aerial Cross

Monument to the First South Atlantic Aerial Crossing

The first crossing of the South Atlantic by airplane was successfully completed by the Portuguese aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral in 1922 as part of the commemorations of the first centennial of the independence of Brazil.

The epic journey began in Lisbon next to the Tower of Belém at 4:30 p.m. on 30 March 1922 using a single-engined hydroplane, the Fairey F III-D MkII, which was especially designed for the journey and fitted out with a Rolls Royce engine. Sacadura Cabral was the pilot, with Gago Coutinho serving as navigator. The latter had invented, and used during the flight, a type of sextant with an artificial horizon. It revolutionised air navigation of the day as it allowed for air navigation without visual reference to the real horizon.

Although the journey lasted seventy-nine days, the flight time was only sixty-two hours and twenty-six minutes for a total of 8,383 kilometres.

In 1991 a monument designed by the architects Martins Bairrada and Leopoldo Soares Branco and the sculptor Domingos Soares Branco was unveiled next to the Tower of Belém. It is an exact copy in stainless steel of the seaplane that made the journey, the Santa Cruz. Inside the plane are life-sized busts of the two aviators.

Bibl.: "Belém" by Isabel Corrêa da Silva andMiguel Metelo de Seixas, publ. by Junta de Freguesia de Sta. Maria de Belém