The Vimy Flies AgainVickers Vimy biplane will retrace its historic transatlantic crossing of June 1919, piloted by record-breaking adventurer Steve Fossett and Vimy Atlantic's Mark Rebholz.
May 19, 2005, San Francisco, CA: In mid-June, pilot Steve Fossett and copilot/navigator Mark Rebholz will attempt to complete the third leg in the recreation of three historic flights made by the Vickers Vimy, a World War I era bomber, by crossing the Atlantic nonstop in a reproduction of the original 70-foot wingspan, open-cockpit flying machine.
Fossett and Rebholz will depart St. John's Newfoundland sometime between June 7 and June 20, 2005, depending on weather conditions, to make the 24-hour flight to Clifden, Ireland, in a dramatic re-enactment of the flight originally made by British pilots John Alcock and Arthur Brown, long acknowledged to be the first successful nonstop transatlantic crossing.
The Vimy replica has already completed the first two legs of the "Vimy Triple Crown", historic flights that helped demonstrate the viability of commercial aviation, by successfully flying the 15,000 mile route from England to Australia in 1994, and the 9,000 mile journey from London to Cape Town in 1999. The Vimy biplane has touched down in over 30 countries during her epic flights and even endured an engine failure and crash-landing in Sumatra, Indonesia.
The Vimy left its home base at Gnoss Field in Novato, California, today, on the first leg of its journey to St John's, the take-off point for the transatlantic crossing. Along the way, it will make stops in Oshkosh, Toronto and Ottawa, before arriving in St. John's in early June to prepare for the challenging flight.
True to the original flight, Rebholz will navigate the Atlantic crossing guided only by a sextant and compassinstruments available to the crew in 1919and Fossett will pilot the wood and canvas plane at a speed of only 75 miles per hour, a far cry from the speed and conditions in which he recently attained his world record for circumnavigation of the globe in the jet-powered Virgin GlobalFlyer. The flight of the Vimy across the Atlantic intrigued Fossett because it will add an historical milestone element to his long list of adventures in the air and at sea.
National Geographic magazine's website (www.ngm.com) will be the official site for the Vickers Vimy's transatlantic voyage. Go to www.ngm.com/vimy. In their only nod to modern technology, Fossett and Rebholz will transmit live images from four on-board cameras, and will post updates during the flight. National Geographic and the Vimy organization began their long standing relationship in 1994 when National Geographic sponsored the England to Australia voyage and featured it on the cover of the May 1995 issue. National Geographic Explorer televised a one-hour documentary of that dramatic flight.
The completion of the "Triple Crown" has been a 12-year labor of love for the Vimy team, a consortium of impassioned aviation buffs led by San Franciscan Peter McMillan, who assembled the team that created the Vimy replica and who has piloted it on previous voyages. McMillan says it best; "From an ambitious dream in 1993, this primitive flying machine has now cast her graceful shadow over most of the Earth, as did her predecessors in the early days of aviation. Wherever she has traveled, she radiates the spirit of the pioneers and reminds us all that adventure leads the path to progress. Seeing the sunrise on the hills of Ireland will be her crowning moment."
About the Vimy Project: The Vimy Project was organized in 1993 by Peter McMillan and Lang Kidby to build a flying replica of the 1919 Vickers Vimy and relive its historic flights across the globe. The Vimy has flown nearly 40,000 miles to date, touching down in over 30 countries, reminding all who see her of the proficiency and self-reliance demonstrated by the pioneers of aviation. This machine has truly become the "Galleon of the Skies," as she was known in 1919. The project has been driven entirely through volunteer enthusiasm with the critical assistance of corporate and media partners, including the National Geographic Society.
About Steve Fossett: Steve Fossett is perhaps the world's best known adventurer, holding current world records in five sportsballoons, sailboats, gliders, airships, and powered aircraft. Steve's extraordinary 67-hour flight in March 2005 in Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyerthe first solo nonstop round the world aircraft flightmakes a unique match for his equally remarkable 2002 Bud Light Spirit of Freedomthe first solo round the world balloon flight. In 2002, Steve received aviation's highest award, the Gold Medal of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).
About Mark Rebholz: Copilot and navigator Mark Rebholz is a long standing member of the Vimy team, having piloted many of the Vimy's previous flights. Mark is responsible for all flight-related activities, including flight planning, clearances, meteorology, and navigation. Mark was chief test pilot for the Vimy's FAA certification, and has over 20,000 flying hours, 4,500 of which are in 24 different vintage-type aircraft. Mark is currently a Boeing 747 captain for United Airlines.
About National Geographic magazine: National Geographic magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world's largest nonprofit educational and scientific organizations. Published in English and 27 local-language editions, the magazine has a circulation of around 9 million that spans every country around the globe. It is sent each month to National Geographic members and is also available on newsstands for $4.95 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call to apply for membership of the Society. The magazine's website is www.ngm.com.
Broadcast and print press coverage opportunities for the Flight of the Vimy will be announced for Oshkosh, Toronto, Ottawa, St. Johns, Clifden and Shannon, Ireland, and England. Go to www.ngm.com/vimy and www.vimy.org for updates.
For Vimy Atlantic:
Vimy Atlantic Spokesman
Telephone: (415) 743-1516
For Vimy Group:|
Telephone: (415) 331-3883
Vimy Atlantic Media Coordinator:
Media Gate Partners
Telephone: (415) 845-4880
For National Geographic magazine:|
Manager, Media Relations
Telephone: (202) 857-7001