History was made on St Helena at 1350hrs GMT, Tuesday 15 September 2015, as a Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft arrived from Angola and touched down at St Helena’s new Airport, prior to conducting a series of calibration flights.
The aircraft crew comprised Captain Grant Brighton, Co-pilot and First Officer Dillan Van Niekerk, Chief Aircraft Engineer Jeffrey McKenzie – all of TAB Charters, SA – together with FCSL Chief Pilot, Stuart Rawlinson, and Chief Flight Inspector Nick Whitehouse, also of FCSL.
Stepping out of the aircraft, Captain Grant Brighton said:
“It feels fantastic and we’re privileged to have flown the first plane to land on St Helena and to be part of your wonderful project.
“The trip over was good. It was interesting landing here, a bit windy on the threshold but a terrific runway, surface, Airport and facility.”
Watching the landing – together with numerous residents at various vantage points – Councillor Lawson Henry commented:
“First of all this is quite emotional – we’ve waited so long for this moment and it has finally happened. This is history in the making and we’re a part of it.”
Basil Read Island Director Deon de Jager added:
“It’s brilliant – all the hard work has paid off. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved – we’ve actually done it.”
Airport Project Director Janet Lawrence said of the day:
“I honestly can’t describe today. Years of planning and thousands of man hours have gone into this moment and to actually see it happen is an immense feeling.
“There are so many people we should be thanking, including people who can’t be here with us today. It’s not over yet – there’s still a great deal more to be done – but this event clearly shows that we’re going in the right direction.”
Greeting the crew on the Airport Apron, Governor Mark Capes remarked:
“Today we witnessed an event that will feature prominently in the history of this Island. For the Airport project another important piece of the jigsaw has slotted firmly into place. There are a few more vital pieces to be added before the picture is complete, but we are nearly there and I warmly congratulate everyone who has played a part in this extraordinary project.
“When we launched this work almost four years ago, such were the many obstacles to overcome that there were those who doubted that it would succeed and yet, behold, a plane has landed at St Helena Airport.”