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the plane that changed the world

vimy spring 2012Glamour, danger and pioneering spirit are not words commonly associated with the air travel industry today, but for a time in the early 20th century, aviation truly captivated the global imagination.  Inspired by this spirit and the groundbreaking voyages of a particular WWI-era bomber plane, UNC alumnus Peter McMillan ’81 and Australian Lang Kidby undertook the challenge in 1992 of rebuilding the Vickers Vimy biplane, complete with open cockpit and cotton-covered wings, and re-creating three flights that ushered it into the history books: the first England-to- Australia flight (1919); first transatlantic crossing (1919), eight years before Lindbergh’s solo flight; and first England-to-South Africa flight (1920).

On November 10th, UNC Global and the UNC Curriculum in Global Studies screened a movie that interweaves the historic and modern Vimy flights, separated by 90 years but united in a common spirit of adventure. Incorporating photos and video footage of both the original and modern flights, the movie captured McMillan’s story, allowing viewers to witness the joy of cruising over the Taj Mahal and the aftermath of a crash landing on Sumatra.

A lively question and answer session with Peter McMillan followed the presentation. The conversation continued over a public reception in the atrium.

For more information on Vimy, visit the following sites:
National Geographic – Flight Dispatches from 2005 Voyage
National Geographic – The History of Vimy
National Geographic – 2005 Flights (The Mechanics of Vimy)
Official Vimy Website