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New Issue | Centenary of the 1st South Atlantic Air Crossing

About the Stamps

This issue is composed of three-stamps se-tenant and illustrates the trajectory of the 1st South Atlantic Air Crossing. The first and third postage stamps bring elements that represent the city of departure, Lisbon and the city of arrival, Rio de Janeiro: Belém Tower, and Christ the Redeemer, respectively. On the first postage stamp, in addition to the illustration of the Tower, there is also the Vera Cruz caravel. It is also possible to notice the smoky seaplane in the background of the horizon. The middle postage stamp shows the Fairey III-D seaplane flying over the South Atlantic. In the upper left portion there is the drawing of the Order of Christ Cross. The third postage stamp highlights the two pilots framed by an astrolabe, symbol of the first maritime adventures, under the “Route Corrector”, one of the new instruments invented by Gago Coutinho to help the crossing. On the right, the centenary period and the title of the issue, and the illustration ends with a seaplane landing in Guanabara Bay. The technique used was gouache painting on Montval paper.

Centenary of the 1st South Atlantic Air Crossing

In 1922, during the celebrations of the Centenary of the Brazilian Independence, the ties between Brazil and Portugal were strengthened by a remarkable feat undertaken by two aces of Portuguese aviation, Artur de Sacadura Freire Cabral and Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho, who, combining technical knowledge with a high dose of fearlessness, made the First South Atlantic Air Crossing.

In recognition and tribute to the achievement on behalf of the world aviation, which this year, 2022, completes one hundred years, Correios Brasil, in partnership with the Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica – INCAER (Historical and Cultural Institute of the Aeronautics), and Museu Aeroespacial – MUSAL (Aerospace Museum), presents to the public the commemorative stamp “Centenary of the 1st South Atlantic Air Crossing” (1922-2022) together with a short text narrating the fachievement of the aviators who united the feelings of both the nations in a single expectation: the Lisbon-Rio de Janeiro route.

We invite the public to take a seat and travel through the South Atlantic skies aboard the Fairey F III-D seaplane, which took off from Lisbon and landed, after some mishaps and aircraft changes, in Guanabara Bay, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Facing the adversities of an unknown route, the heroic aviators crossed a large extension of the South Atlantic, never before flown over, recreating the “epic” of Pedro Álvares Cabral’s caravels.

Enjoy your reading!

The First South Atlantic Air Crossing took place from March 30 to June 17, 1922. It was an important and unusual event and a memorable milestone in the annals of air navigation, worldwide. Furthermore, in 1922, the Centenary of Brazilian Independence was being celebrated, an excellent occasion to make the unforgettable flight connecting Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil’s capital. At the time of this project, few voyages of this magnitude, over the sea, had been undertaken. However, it was possible to gather experiences and suggestions about the machines employed and, above all, the air navigation processes used. Until then, only the following had been accomplished: the crossing of the Mediterranean from France to Algeria by the French, the crossing of the North Atlantic by the Americans, and the crossing from Newfoundland to Iceland by the British.

On March 30, 1922, at 7 a.m., after a 15-second race over the waters of the Tagus River, in front of the historic Belém Tower, pilot Sacadura Cabral (1881-1924) and navigator Gago Coutinho (1869-1959), aboard the 350 hp Fairey F III-D single-engine seaplane, baptized with the name “Lusitânia”, took off for the great adventure. The fearless aviators made part of their journey via the following stopovers: Las Palmas, Gando, São Vicente, and São Tiago. From then on, the greatest challenge of the Crossing began, with a greater distance to cover, all the way to Brazilian territory.

On April 18, everything was in place for the first Portugal-Brazil air link to take place, with the first stop being São Pedro Penedo, located within Brazilian territorial waters. At 5:55 am, the “Lusitania” took off carrying 255 gallons of gasoline in its tanks. At 8 am, after two hours of departure, the pilot found that the 195 gallons of gasoline left in his tanks would only allow him to fly for 10 hours. At 5 pm, they sighted Penedo de São Pedro and then the ship “República”, which was covering them in the risky adventure. From there, they headed straight for the ship to tie up close to it, and at this point did not count more than two or three liters of gasoline in the tank.

There was a plan to land the device in the middle of the sea, near Penedo de São Pedro, so that the crossing would not suffer any interruption in its previously established route; however, when the ship arrived near the Penedo, it turned out that it would not be possible to land it in good conditions. It was agreed that the seaplane would land at Fernando de Noronha and the aviators would follow the route: Fernando de Noronha – Penedo de São Pedro – Fernando de Noronha; and leave from there for the Brazilian coast, thus completing the stretch that had not been completed.

However, a new misfortune came about. After flying over the Penedos to restart their journey, they were forced to make an emergency landing and were left for nine hours as castaways, fearing for their lives, before being rescued by an English freighter. Despite all the setbacks suffered by the brave Portuguese airmen, the enthusiasm, both in Portugal and in Brazil, did not cool down, quite the contrary. The Portuguese government immediately decided to order the last Fairey that the Naval Aviation had to Fernando de Noronha. The seaplane arrived at the Brazilian island on June 2nd aboard the Portuguese cruiser “Carvalho Araújo”. The aviators took off from Fernando de Noronha to Recife (capital of the state of Pernambuco) on June 5, and at 11:40 a.m. they sighted the northeast coast of Brazil. At 1:30 pm, they landed in Brazilian waters off Recife, having covered the 300 miles in 4 hours 30 minutes of flight at an average speed of 67 mph. The First South Atlantic Air Crossing was thus completed. Glory was won by Portugal, for it was the first country to make this Crossing using methods and instruments created, by the Portuguese, for air navigation.

Taking off from Recife, they made stopovers in Salvador and Porto Seguro (Bahia state), Vitória (Espírito Santo state), and, finally, landed in the waters of Guanabara Bay (Rio de Janeiro state), on June 17, at 5:32 pm.

Text extracted and adapted from the book “A Primeira Travessia Aérea do Atlântico Sul” (The 1st South Atlantic Air Crossing), written by Aviator Colonel Manuel Cambeses Júnior, published by the Instituto HistóricoCultural da Aeronáutica (Historical and Cultural Institute of the Aeronautics) - INCAER

Technical Details

Stamp issue N. 11

Art: Gustavo Ramos

Print system: offset and embossing

Paper: gummed chalky paper

Sheet with 12 stamps (4 se-tenants of 3 stamps)

Facial value: R$ 2.35

Issue: 96,000 stamps (32.000 se-tenants)

Design area: 35 x 25mm and 40 x 25mm

Stamp dimensions: 40 x 30mm

Perforation: 11.5 x 12

Date of issue: August 1st, 2022

Places of issue: Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Recife/PE and Brasília/DF

Printing: Brazilian Mint

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