Artur de Sacadura Freire Cabral, GCTE (23 May 1881 – 15 November 1924), known simply as Sacadura Cabral and Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho, GCTE, GCC, generally known simply as Gago Coutinho; 17 February 1869 – 18 February 1959) were two Portuguese aviation pioneers who in 1922 conducted the first flight across the South Atlantic Ocean, and also the first using astronomical navigation only, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho together with Artur de Sacadura Cabral on board of the Lusitânia
The Fairey IIIB seaplane used by Coutinho and Cabral for their transatlantic flight did not have enough fuel capacity to make the entire trip unaided so various stops were made along the way and the aviators were shadowed by a support ship, República. On the journey down the Brazilian coast a heavy rain storm caused the aircraft’s engine to fail and the aviators were forced to ditch in the ocean. Realizing that something was wrong, the República sent out a distress signal asking other ships in the area to look out for the seaplane. After some time in the water, the aviators were found by a British freighter. The Paris City of the Reardon Smith Line, under Captain A.E. Tamlyn, en route from Cardiff to Rio, rescued Coutinho and Cabral; they completed their journey with a new aircraft. A commemorative painting of the rescuewas produced by the Portuguese comic artist, José Stuart Carvalhais (Stuart).
Gago Coutinho invented a type of sextant incorporating two spirit levels to provide an artificial horizon. This adaptation of the traditional marine sextant allowed navigation without visual reference to the real horizon.
On 15 November 1924, Sacadura Cabral disapperead while flying over the English Channell, along with his co-pilot, Mechanical Corporal José Correia, due to fog and his shortening eyesight (which never kept him from flying). The remains of the plane were found four days later, but there was no sign of the bodies. A statue dedicated to these brave men is located in Lisbon. Another statue is located in his hometown, Celorico da Beira. Descendants of Sacadura Cabral can still be found in aviation, including an American flight medic in the U.S. Air Force and was the granduncle of Portuguese politicians Miguel Portas and Paulo Portas.
Journey of Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho in the South Atlantic Ocean