|Albert Cushing Read, Sr.|
Read in 1919
April 29, 1887|
Lyme, New Hampshire
October 10, 1967 (aged 80)|
Coconut Grove, Florida
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1907–1946|
World War I|
World War II
Distinguished Service Medal|
Legion of Merit
Read was born in Lyme, New Hampshire on April 29, 1887 into a Boston Brahmin family. He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating in the class of 1907. In 1915, he was designated naval aviator number 24.
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, a couple of weeks before Alcock and Brown's non-stop flight, and eight years before Charles Lindbergh's solo, 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.
Later in 1919, upon returning to the U.S., Read predicted: "It soon will be possible to drive an airplane around the world at a height of 60,000 feet and 1,000 miles per hour." The next day, The New York Times ran an editorial in reaction, stating: "It is one thing to be a qualified aviator, and quite another to be a qualified prophet. Nothing now known supports the Lieutenant Commander’s forecast. An airplane at the height of 60,000 feet would be whirling its propellers in a vacuum, and no aviator could live long in the freezing cold of interstellar space."
On June 3, 1919, he was made a commander of the Order of the Tower and Sword by the Portuguese government. In 1929, Read and the rest of the flight crew of NC-4 were awarded Congressional Gold Medals.
On June 4, 1962, he appeared on the TV game show I've Got a Secret.
He died in retirement in Coconut Grove, Florida in October 10, 1967. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was married to Elizabeth Anderson “Bess” (Burdine) Read (September 16, 1896 – December 8, 1992). Rear Adm. Read is survived by his grandson James Marsh Cunningham and his great-granddaughter Julia Elizabeth Cunningham.
He appeared on I've Got a Secret on June 4, 1962. Rear Adm. Albert Cushing Reed, Ret., Miami: “I commanded the first airplane to fly the Atlantic Ocean in 1919.”