As a Lieutenant Commander in May 1919, Read commanded a crew of five on the NC-4 Curtiss flying boat, the first aircraft ever to make a transatlantic flight, eight years before Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo, non-stop flight, and a couple of weeks before Alcock and Brown's non stop flight. Read's flight started from Rockaway Beach, Long Island, took 23 days before arriving in Plymouth, England. The six stops included layovers at Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland, the Azores, and Lisbon, Portugal. Read is listed as Naval Aviator No. 24.
He commanded naval air stations at Bay Shore, NY, and Miami during WWI and before his record flight, served briefly in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Until he retired in 1946, the admiral held several commands, including Chief of Naval Air Technical Training in Chicago and Commander, Air Fleet Atlantic in Norfolk. He also skippered more than 12 ships during his career and his last year of duty was served as Deputy Chief of Naval Air Operations.