Commander E.F. “Archie” Stone
Pilot of First Successful Trans-Atlantic Flight
One of the Coast Guard’s first aviators and one of the most important figures in Coast Guard history, Commander E.F. “Archie” Stone was behind the controls of the U.S. Navy seaplane NC-4 when it made its historic crossing of the Atlantic on May 8, 1919. Commander Stone was a pilot and navigator on this first-ever successful trans-Atlantic flight.
Stone was a first lieutenant when he piloted the Navy seaplane NC-4 during an attempt by the Navy to complete the first trans-Atlantic flight. The Navy’s expedition consisted of three Curtis flying boats, the NC-1, NC-3, and NC-4. They were in direct competition with three teams of British pilots, who were flying from a base in St. Johns, Newfoundland. All were hoping to win a prize of $50,000, offered by London’s Daily Mail, that would be awarded to the first team to cross the Atlantic by air successfully.
The NC-4 started from the Naval Air Station at Rockaway, New York, at 1000 hours on May 8, in concert with the NC-1 and NC-3, and although the NC-1 and NC-3 did not complete the journey, the NC-4 successfully crossed the Atlantic and landed in Lisbon, Portugal on May 27, after hops from Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland to Horta, Azores, to Ponta Delgada, Portugal. Stone was decorated that same day by the Portuguese government with the Order of the Tower and Sword.
Stone then flew to Plymouth, England, arriving there 31 May 1919. He was awarded the British Air Force Cross by the government of England on 9 June 1919. He received a promotion to the temporary rank of captain on 25 September 1919. He was awarded a Navy Cross for “distinguished service in making the first successful trans-Atlantic flight” on 11 November 1920. He received a written commendation from then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, dated 23 August 1919, that stated:
“I wish to heartily commend you for your work as pilot of the Seaplane NC-4 during the recent trans-Atlantic flight expedition. The energy, efficiency, and courage shown by you contributed to the accomplishment of the first trans-Atlantic flight, which feat has brought honor to the American Navy and the entire American nation. . .”
Commander Stone’s story is among the thousands to be told at the National Coast Guard Museum in New London, CT. The untold story of Coast Guard aviation in particular, will be prominently be displayed when the museum opens its doors.
Click here to access more information about Commander Elmer Stone, including documentation and more photography. Provided courtesy of The Ancient Order of The Pterodactyl and Captain Robert B. Workman, USCG (Ret.).