Title: Medallion, Commemorative, NC-4
Accession #: NHHC 2016.052.004
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command
One commemorative medal presented to the Captain and crew of NC-4, the first aircraft to successfully complete a trans-Atlantic flight. The medal obverse depicts victory holding two propellers with a depiction of the Statue of Liberty and the US Capitol in the background. Victory is standing on a platform with Navy flight wings and columns. The left of Victory reads "From Glenn H. Curtiss" and on the right "Commemorating / the First / Trans Atlantic Flight / May 31 1919." The bottom of the coin is marker "Navy NC Curtiss." The sculptors mark is visible near the bottom right of the image, "Kile, NY." The reverse shows a collage of a Curtiss NC-4 flying boat, a sidewheel steamer, a ship with sails, and a globe surrounded by clouds. The makers mark along the rim is "Whitehead - Hoag."
This coin was created to commemorate the first successful trans-Atlantic flight, achieved by NC-4. NC-4 was a Navy (N) Curtiss (C) “flying boat,” also called “Nancy Boats.” The final design was a large biplane with four engines, a large central pontoon, and crewed by six men. The plane was designed to be able to take off from and land in water.
The Navy Curtiss was originally conceived as a plane that could cross the Atlantic Ocean under its own power and act as a long-range antisubmarine warfare platform. This was especially necessary since German U-boats continued to harass Allied shipping throughout World War I. Though the war ended before the final design for the flying boat was complete, the Navy was intent on testing the aircraft’s long-range capability.
On 8 May 1919, three NC’s took off from Rockaway, Long Island, NY on a six-leg journey to reach Plymouth, England. Only NC-4 was able to successfully complete the mission, arriving in Plymouth, England on 31 May 1919.
Glen Curtiss, the presenter of this medal, was one of the designers of the aircraft. He trained the Navy’s first pilots and built the Navy’s first aircraft, earning him the moniker the “Father of Naval Aviation.”
This medal is one of only six presented to the captain and crew of the NC-4. An alternate version of this medal was made with a standard planchet, ribbon, and brooch in the 1930's, marking the first time a Congressional Gold Medal was made into a ribbon for wear.