R34 Memorial in East Lothian, Scotland

R34 Memorial

Scotland’s National Museum of Flight, located in the former Royal Air Force base of East Fortune, was the departure point for the first return flight across the Atlantic. The R34 airship was the first to complete an east-west flight across this ocean, as earlier attempts (both with scales and non-stop), succeeded by flying west-east, from North America to Europe.

R34 was a rigid airship, unlike the airplane flown by Alcock and Brown used for the first non-stop transatlantic flight a few weeks before R34’s. Having departed from East Fortune on July 2, 1919, the airship landed in Long Island, New York four and a half days later. After celebrating in the United States and meeting then-president Woodrow Wilson, the crew of the R34 (including their mascot cat Wopsie) flew the airship back to East Fortune, thus completing the first transatlantic round trip by air.

Unfortunately, just two years later, R34 also known as “Tiny” was involved in an accident and was scrapped. One of the former air base’s depots now houses an exhibit dedicated to the R34, in addition to a plaque installed on the museum’s grounds. Parts of the airship ranging from an altimeter dial to a piece of linen of its outer covering, sit side by side with cargo such as a bottle of medicinal brandy to commemorate this century-old flight achievement.

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