Although we knew that the MV Queen Victoria was not going to stop here, we all wished she had. None more than I as two of my friends Tony and Valerie Chapman were on board, promising to wave as they went by!
It’s a case of Economics as to whether a cruise ship stops at a destination or not. In the old days (1960s and before) St Helena saw a multitude of ships stopping for supplies, news and to let passengers on and off.
Since the opening of the Suez Canal and increasingly cheap air travel, these days have ended.
Cruise liners are reluctant to mention St Helena (or any other small destinations) as a stop off as the sea can sometimes prevent landing and supplies don’t need to be uploaded any more.
Making a promise to someone paying thousands of pounds for a cruise and then not fulfilling it, is a recipe for an unhappy customer.
St Helena welcomes in the region on 6 to 15 Cruise Ships per year at the moment, some are only small carriers, and others are huge, keeping the whole island busy, including sometimes, school kids as the school buses are used for tours on a busy cruise ship day.
These stops are immensely important to the island as they bring revenue; although not always much. Lack of time sometimes means that tourists are on the bus round the island and then back on the ship in a couple of hours.
Cruise Ship visits also bring much relished interaction with others. Being a small island of only 4200 folk, the locals (and those of us who are not local) love to chat to visitors and to proudly show them the island. The feedback from Cruise passengers over the time I have been here has constantly been incredibly positive. Not only contact with the islanders but the variety of scenery and the totally unspoilt feel of the place.
It’s a real shame that Cunard didn’t feel they had time to stop and say hello. They would have received a warm St Helena Welcome and an invitation to return next time they are passing!
The Following announcement has just been made by St Helena Government regarding the opening of our airport here on St Helena.
AIRPORT OPENING CEREMONY POSTPONED
St Helena Government today confirms that further safety and operational work is required prior to the Official Opening of the Island’s new Airport - and that this event has therefore been postponed. While this means that the Airport will not officially open on 21 May 2016 as originally planned, the safety of aircraft and passengers is of course paramount.
Last week the Island’s Air Service Provider, Comair, brought a Boeing 737-800 aircraft to St Helena on an ‘Implementation Flight’. The crew was able to gather real time information on the conditions at St Helena’s new Airport to assist in preparations for the commencement of scheduled air services. The objectives of the Implementation Flight included route assessment, airside operations, passenger and cargo handling, training and various aspects of safety at St Helena Airport.
One outcome of the Implementation Flight has been the gathering of additional data on turbulence and windshear on the approach to Runway 20 (from the North). As a result of the data gathered and the conditions experienced, it has been decided that there is some additional work to be done in order to ensure the safe operation of scheduled passenger flights to and from St Helena Airport.
Windshear refers to a change in wind speed or direction, including a rapid change over a short distance. Difficult wind conditions, including turbulence and windshear, are encountered and safely managed at many airports around the world.
All parties are now working hard to get a better understanding of how windshear conditions can be mitigated at St Helena Airport - assessing what measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of incoming aircraft landing on Runway 20. Everyone involved remains committed to commencing commercial flights to and from St Helena at the earliest possible opportunity.
SHG - working with all parties - has taken the decision to postpone the planned Official Opening Ceremony until a solution is found to manage this important safety issue.
The Official Opening of St Helena Airport will now take place at a later date which has yet to be determined.
The public will be kept informed as this work progresses.
Today is the day that many have been looking forward to.
Although not a scheduled flight, this was the one which shows the world that St Helena Airport is open for business. The flight is the first Comair flight to arrive here and the one which signals that more will follow.
Many islanders made the trip out to the millennium forest area to get a good look at the landing even though it is Monday and a work day.
The flight was due to arrive at 11.40 and around 11.50 a speck could be seen in the distance.
The plane gradually made it towards the island until the British Airways livery on the tail could clearly be seen. A lack of undercarriage gave away the fact that the plane was probably coming in for a first look rather than a landing. It got close to the runway and then made a climb and returned back to the north east for the landing
Once again In came the plane for what we thought would be the real landing. In it came and almost skimmed the runway but at the very last minute the landing was aborted and again it climbed away through the clouds.
The third attempt was not without drama with a dip to the wings before wheels actually touched the ground. Plenty of dust flew up as soon as touchdown happened and as the plane taxied to a halt..
And so there we have it, commercial aircraft landing for the first time on St Helena. A moment in history and an open gateway to the rest of the world.
Fares have been announced and soon bookings can be made via the British Airways website. This is likely to take place in another couple of weeks.
The plane is going to be here for a couple of days and will be doing test landings and take offs during this time.
Heading back to the office was an experience as we ended up in a massive traffic jam with cars coming from all directions onto the main road. A taste of things to come perhaps?
Sunday was the day that the first Jet arrived on St Helena.
This wasn't a scheduled flight (that's next month) but part of the last phase of the Airport Certification process. The local population turned out in force with many taking position in places where only a 4WD could make it. I didn't go over as roads were congested and my VW likes tarmac.
The Government Press Release gave out this message and sent the photos I have posted here.
A Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet landed at St Helena Airport yesterday, Sunday 10 April 2016, at around 11.20am - the first ever jet aircraft to land at St Helena Airport (HLE).
The flight departed from Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg on Sunday morning, calling at Walvis Bay, Namibia, for refueling and a weather update.
On board the aircraft were three pilots and eight passengers connected to the Airport project - including DFID Airport Project Manager, Nigel Kirby, and Certification Manager, Alan Shaw. The ASSI team will be led by Senior Aerodrome Inspector, Justin Rothwell, who first visited St Helena last year.
From today, Monday 11 April 2016, the ASSI team will undertake its key on-site audit as part of the certification process. The Bombardier jet will conduct several flights during the visit for Air Traffic Control and other purposes.
It is expected that the aircraft will depart St Helena on Friday 15 April 2016, at around 08.30hrs.
Antiques on St Helena are quite common as many families have been here for years and have gathered artefacts and mementos from many parts of the globe.
The Napoleonic era obviously has an impact on island collectables with pictures, ceramics, tapestries and other works lovingly cared for.
When asking folk what antiques they have and do they know about them, the usual answer is, “no its been passed down to me”. Consequently the heralded visit by Bargain Hunt and Antiques Roadshow celebrity Tim Wannacott was met with much anticipation.
Tim visited the island last week with his wife Helen to write articles about St Helena for the Harrods Magazine and Mail on Sunday.
Whilst they were here, we took advantage of his valuation skills and set up an event in Jamestown’s Grand Parade for locals to bring their treasures.
It was estimated that we would get enough interest to keep the ball rolling for around two hours, in fact Tim was still going strong seven hours after he started! The queue started at around 8.30am for the start at 10.00am.
We saw paintings, wood carvings, coins, ceramics, glassware, statues, jewellery and much more. Some items could be valued on the spot but most were photographed and the owners details taken for a more accurate valuation to be sent from the UK.
Did we unearth any rare finds? Well if we did, no one is shouting about it.
There were some items valued in the thousands but the owners want to keep them under wraps. Probably because they just want to keep them in the family, just where they have been for the past 200 years.
An invitation to Longwood House for last Tuesday saw many of us up there to mark the opening of the exhibition “Napoleon in Saint Helena” at the Musée de L’Armée in Paris. The museum is running an exhibition to illustrate Napoleon’s time on St Helena and includes much of the furniture which was used by Napoleon whilst here.
The museum description of Napoleon’s time on St Helena includes the following narrative which in the context of today’s opinion of the island, couldn’t be further from the truth.
“On the rock of Saint Helena, the fallen Emperor launched his final battle, that of posterity, making his last residence a place for writing and creating the legend. Isolated in the midst of the Atlantic, everything conspired to make Longwood a tragic hell on earth.”