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  • First to the Fastest

    First to the Fastest The Transatlantic Air Race Exhibition

First to the Fastest

“There is always satisfaction in being the first to do anything, whatever it may be”
Sir John Alcock, 1919

Located in the Vimy Pavilion

Included in Museum Admission

Breakthroughs in aviation often come through conflict, as a result of the need for aircraft to go faster, further, and higher to gain an advantage.

Brooklands was at the centre of some of the most significant innovations of the 20th century that have changed the way we travel today.

Discover the stories of the courage, skill and teamwork of the people behind two significant aviation milestones, demonstrating how far we have come in such a short space of time.

The exhibition celebrates two historic Transatlantic air races: the 100th anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in a Brooklands-built Vickers Vimy in June 1919 and the records broken during the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race of 1969.

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1919 - The Pilots

Sir John Alcock & Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Brown

The dream team, Captain Sir John Alcock a distinguished World War One pilot and Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Arthur Whitten Brown a navigator and engineer. Together they achieved what seemed impossible just a few years earlier.


1919 - The Aircraft Designer

Reginald Kirshaw ‘Rex’ Pierson

Starting out as a Vickers naval gun apprentice, Rex Pierson, would become the mastermind behind the Vimy’s success, the first aircraft he designed after being appointed Chief Designer for Vickers at the age of 26.


1969 - The Pilot

Squadron Leader Tom Lecky-Thompson

50 years after Alcock and Brown, a new set of pilots took on the challenge of the Daily Mail transatlantic Air Race. Tom Lecky-Thompson, an experienced RAF pilot would fly the Harrier on its record-breaking journey.


1969 - The Aircraft Designer

Ralph Hooper

One of the legendary team behind the Harrier, Ralph started out in the aviation industry at the age of 15, working his way up to become senior project engineer at Hawker Aircraft Ltd.

At the centre of the exhibition will be are two pioneering aircraft:

  • Our Vickers Vimy replica 'NX71MY', which on 2nd-3rd July 2005 successfully re-enacted Alcock & Brown’s transatlantic flight.
  • The Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1 XV741, which won the prize for the fastest crossing from London to New York in the 1969 Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race.