TWO French pilots beat American Charles Lindbergh in making the first full-length crossing of the Atlantic by plane, according to a researcher cited in The Independent today.
The key difference is, Lindbergh lived to tell the tale.
Evidence has come to light suggesting World War I French air force pilots Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli reached the Canadian coast in their seaplane 10 days before Lindbergh made it from New York to Le Bourget in May, 1927.
The pair are believed to have landed their plane, the L'Oiseau Blanc (White Bird), off the coast of the French islands of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon near Newfoundland, but were killed when the aircraft broke up on the water. It is understood they were attempting to make it to New York but had run out of fuel.
What happened to Nungesser and Coli has been referred to as the "Everest of aviation mysteries."
A range of documents has now been pieced together by Bernard Decre, an aviation enthusiast who believes he has solved the mystery.
"My intention is not to disparage the magnificent achievement of Lindbergh," Decre said.
"But I believe ... we must be as precise as we can about the early history of aviation. I believe that Nungesser and Coli, although they did not live to tell their story, should now be restored to an important place in that history."
The evidence would theoretically make Lindbergh the first person to land his aircraft successfully after an Atlantic crossing.
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