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Maiden flight celebrates 100th anniversary

Today is the 100th anniversary of Bermuda's first aircraft flight.

People lined the streets and balconies on the Hamilton waterfront to watch the first aircraft to take flight in Bermuda in 1919.

Tom Singfield, the author of Wings Over Bermuda, said the Curtiss N-9H “Jenny” floatplane was on board the freighter SS Elinor, which had served in the First World War as the USS Elinor, when it made an unscheduled trip here because of engine trouble and poor weather.

Sir James Willcocks, the Governor, persuaded the pilots to take to the air to give Bermudians their first sight of a powered aircraft.

G.L. Richard and W.H. Cushing, two Ensigns from the United States Navy, were at the controls for the historic flight.

In an iterview by the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Singfield said: “In front of a huge crowd he was rowed out to the aircraft waiting near the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

“Piloted by Richard, they were airborne at 12.45pm, flying towards Dockyard and returned safely to alight in the harbour at 1.30pm.

“A proposed further trip with his wife was abandoned after the engine began to play up.”

Thomas Dunstan, the director-general of Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The aviation industry has come a long way over the last 100 years, but it is important to remember where it all began.

“Everyone at BCAA is excited for Bermuda to celebrate this historic aviation milestone.”

The next flight over Bermuda was made in December 1919, when Hal Kitchener, son of Sir Walter Kitchener, a former Governor of Bermuda, and Rowe Spurling, a decorated Bermudian First World War flying ace, flew their Avro 504 floatplane from the new airbase on Hinson's Island.

Mr Singfield, earlier this year called for the Bermuda Post Office to issue a special stamp to commemorate the first flight.

He said in a Letter to Editor that the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force “was more important”.

Historic moment: a US Navy Curtiss N-9H “Jenny” is shown being prepared for flight on May 22, 1919. The pilot took Sir James Willcocks, the Governor, aloft for the flight (Photograph courtesy the National Museum of Bermuda)

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Published May 22, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 22, 2019 at 7:29 am)

Maiden flight celebrates 100th anniversary

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