Alcock was born in 1892 at Seymour Grove, Old Trafford, England.He attended St Margaret's Central School,Great Western Street, Walley Range, Manchester. He first became interested in flying at the age of seventeen. He became an experienced pilot during World War I with the Royal Naval Air Service, though he was shot down during a bombing raid, and taken prisoner in Turkey. While stationed at Moudros, he conceived of and built a fighter aircraft out of the remains of other crashed aircraft. This came to be known as the Alcock Scout. For his actions just before he was shot down Alcock was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Flt. Lieut. John William Alcock, R.N.A.S. (now prisoner). For the great skill, judgement and dash displayed by him off Mudros on the 30th September, 1917, in a successful attack on three enemy seaplanes, two of which were brought down in the sea.
After the war, Alcock wanted to continue his flying career and took up the challenge of attempting to be the first to fly directly across the Atlantic. They departed St John's at 1.45 p.m. local time on 14 June 1919, and landed in Derrygimla bog 16 hours and 12 minutes later on 15 June 1919 after flying 1,980 miles (3,186 km). The flight was made in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber, and won a £10,000 prize offered by London's Daily Mail newspaper for the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic.
A few days after the flight both Alcock and Brown were knighted by King George V.
Alcock was present at the Science Museum in London on 15 December 1919 when the recovered Vimy was presented to the nation. Three days later he was flying a new Vickers amphibious plane, the Type 54 Viking, to the first postwar aeronautical exhibition in Paris when he crashed in fog at Cote d'Everard, near Rouen, Normandy stalling such that a wing hit a tree. He died before medical assistance arrived.
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