A reader has written to me asking if anyone knows the date when an airship flew over Greenock one Sunday evening.

I have searched our archives but the only information about airships and Greenock gives the date of 14 March 1919, which was a Friday and it was at lunchtime.

Some years ago, I wrote about the airship R34, which was built by William Beardmore & Co Ltd at Inchinnan.

She was the craft that flew over Greenock on 14 March 1919 on her test flight.

The R34 attracted large crowds to streets and rooftops.

Built for the Admiralty, it was on the cards the R34 could have achieved the first crossing of the Atlantic by air, but this was not to be.

In 1919, there was fierce competition between Britain and the United States of America as to which nation would win the honour.

The Americans spent a colossal amount of money to support a team of five large Navy seaplanes with the plan of 'hopping' across the Atlantic via the Azores and Lisbon.

The organisation involved 60 destroyers, four cruisers, a battleship and a number of smaller craft.

From St John's, Newfoundland to Lisbon, ships were positioned in a line, brilliantly lit at night, 50 miles apart, to make a 2,400-mile long 'road' for the flyers to follow.

As it happened, only three of the US seaplanes took off for the attempt on 16 May 1919.

Two got lost. One was wrecked after coming down some 200 miles north of the Azores but its crew were rescued.

The other craft was disqualified after landing 100 miles short of the Azores and 'taxiing' into harbour.

The third US seaplane, piloted by Commander Read, finally landed on Plymouth Sound on Saturday 31 May 1919, from where the Plymouth Fathers had set out in the Mayflower for America some 350 years earlier.

The Atlantic Ocean had been crossed by air and, despite having made four stops, there was no attempt to belittle Commander Read's achievement.

At 4.13pm on 14 June 1919, the British aviators Captain John Alcock and his navigator Lieutenant Arthur Brown, who came from Glasgow, set off from St John's in an ex-Great War bomber.

Sixteen hours and eight minutes later, they crash-landed in a peat bog in Clifden, County Galway, and survived making the first non-stop Atlantic crossing by air.

Returning to the R34, bad luck and the weather prevented the airship making an earlier attempt on the crossing.

On 2 July 1919, however, she took off from East Fortune airfield in East Lothian and four days later, landed at Long Island, New York.

She was the first craft to make the east-west crossing of the Atlantic by air after a non-stop flight of 3,100 miles, and her return flight to England some days later marked the first double crossing.

In 1920, the R34 was slightly damaged after hitting a hill in the north of England.

On returning to her Yorkshire base, the airship was dashed against the side of her huge shed when manoeuvring into it, and had to be scrapped.

Please drop me a line at viator@cfpress.co.uk if you have more information about airships and Greenock.