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American newspaper publisher Walter Wellman also purchased a sturdy - subsequently famous - lifeboat from an English firm in 1910 as he was preparing to attempt the first powered flight across the Atlantic in the America.

In addition to its basic role as a refuge for the crew should they be forced down at sea, the lifeboat doubled as a kitchen, pantry, dispensary, smoking lounge and radio position.

Four enemy scouts had by this time got into position to attack, clinging to the tail of the British machine. Shaking himself clear of the remainder, the British pilot opened his throttle and sped homewards leaving on that German aerodrome three blazing wrecks, and two other crashed machines as a highly satisfactory outcome of what might have proved a fatal mistake.

"Manufacturer: Sopwith Aviation Company Type: Fighter First Introduced: 1918 Number Built: 497 Engine: Bentley B.

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Marveling at the unusual temerity of the German in daring to attack over an English aerodrome, the British pilot checked his descent and opened fire on his attacker.The enemy pilots appeared too bewildered by the outstanding audacity of the British airmen to attack them effectively at first, and their own tremendous numerical superiority seemed further to confuse them.One German plane burst into flames in the air, two more went down spinning and side slipping completely out of control.The airship America, long consigned to footnote status by aviation historians, was the ambition of the six adventurers and one feline involved in the attempt.Their attempt to cross the Atlantic came just a decade years after the first modern dirigible was launched and seven years after the Wright Brothers motorized glider sputtered into the air at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

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