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Jet Planes and Goat Meat Curry on St Helena

First jet plane to land on St Helena touches down at precisely 11:27 on Sunday 10 April, 2016. The Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet had flown from Johannesburg in South Africa, stopping to take on fuel in Walvis Bay, Namibia before making the final 2.5 hour hop to St Helena.

First jet plane to land on St Helena touches down at precisely 11:27 on Sunday 10 April, 2016. The Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet had flown from Johannesburg in South Africa, stopping to take on fuel in Walvis Bay, Namibia before making the final 2.5 hour hop to St Helena.

NEW CULTURE MEETING THE OLD | Darrin Henry

Less than an hour after watching the first ever jet plane land on St Helena we were sitting on the grass at Longwood Green eating goat meat curry and rice, along with many other families enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon out. It’s just the smallest indication that long-standing Saint culture is just as relevant today as our desire to modernise and travel.

Airport Inspection Time

The Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet touched down at 11:27 on the dot, (10 April, 2016) bringing the all important Air Safety Support International (ASSI) team who will undertake an on-site audit of the brand new St Helena airport. Hopefully, at the end of their five day visit (or very soon afterwards) they will give the thumbs up for certification, which will allow the roll out of scheduled operations to begin.

On the tarmac during the refuelling stop in Walvis Bay, Namibia - passengers and crew on the first jet plane to land in St Helena later in the day.

On the tarmac during the refuelling stop in Walvis Bay, Namibia – passengers and crew on the first jet plane to land in St Helena later in the day.

Passenger cabin flight display information onboard the Bombardier Challenger 300 as it approached St Helena.

Passenger cabin flight display information onboard the Bombardier Challenger 300 as it approached St Helena.

View from the cockpit onboard the Bombardier Challenger 300 on final approach to St Helena.

View from the cockpit onboard the Bombardier Challenger 300 on final approach to St Helena.

First jet plane to land on St Helena - on final approach. The Bombardier Challenger 300 didn't do a fly by even though it was the first jet plane to land at the new airport, it lined up and touched down first time.

First jet plane to land on St Helena – on final approach. The Bombardier Challenger 300 didn’t do a fly by even though it was the first jet plane to land at the new airport, it lined up and touched down first time.

The very first airplane to land on St Helena was a calibration flight, a Beechcraft King Air 200 twin prop aircraft, attracting a large crowd of spectators on 15 September, 2015, to witness the historic event.

In the seven months since the same plane returned for a second calibration visit and a Royal Navy helicopter also landed at the airport, but otherwise there has been no further air traffic. Today’s business jet is expected to trigger the start of more regular flights for the airport, pending ASSI success. There was strong talk on Prosperous Bay Plain today of a much larger airplane – a Comair Boeing 737 – flying in for a test flight on or about 18 April, just 8 days time.

First jet plane to land on St Helena - turning on the parking apron.

First jet plane to land on St Helena – turning on the parking apron.

Representatives of the island's media services and airport contractors observing the landing from the top of Mole Spider Hill, overlooking the St Helena Airport.

Representatives of the island’s media services and airport contractors observing the landing from the top of Mole Spider Hill, overlooking the St Helena Airport.

Passengers disembarking from the historic flight. First passenger to step onto the island from a jet plane, DfID's Project Manager for the St Helena Airport, Nigel Kirby, who has been working with St Helena on this project for more than 10 years.

Passengers disembarking from the historic flight. First passenger to step onto the island from a jet plane, DfID’s Project Manager for the St Helena Airport, Nigel Kirby, who has been working with St Helena on this project for more than 10 years.

Super Sunday On St Helena

The turnout of spectators today at Bradley’s Garage to witness a second historic landing (first jet plane) was probably the same or more than we saw in September last year.

Sunday riding with lunch packed in the boot of the car is a tradition on St Helena; many people who had taken food out to the viewing, stopped off at Longwood Green on the drive back from the airport to eat. Sharon’s parents, Peter and Jean Fowler, had brought with them a St Helena specialty – goat meat curry and rice. What a delicious treat. We whiled away more than an hour enjoying our meal and discussing what we’d just seen and the amazing times we were all living through on the island.

Lunch with the family on Longwood Green - Jean, Peter and me.

Lunch with the family on Longwood Green – Jean, Peter and me.

Residents of St Helena parking up for lunch and picnics on Longwood Green.

Residents of St Helena parking up for lunch and picnics on Longwood Green.

Shirley's Ice Cream van being kept very busy on Longwood Green.

Shirley’s Ice Cream van being kept very busy on Longwood Green.

Residents of St Helena parking up for lunch and picnics on Longwood Green.

Residents of St Helena parking up for lunch and picnics on Longwood Green.

All around us other vehicles were parking on the Green and families were enjoying a similar experience. Shirley’s Ice Cream van was stationed nearby and along with everyone else who was there it seemed, we treated ourselves to ice cream cones, each of us choosing a different flavour.

It was a perfect example of Saint culture; the simplicity of socialising on a Sunday afternoon over a meal outside in the fresh air and something juicy to yarn about. I don’t think this will ever go away.

To cap it all off, Tottenham beat Manchester United 3-0 later in the afternoon, giving me real cause for (noisy) celebration!

What a Super Sunday we’ve just had.

Goat meat curry and rice - a special St Helena meal for the occasion.

Goat meat curry and rice – a special St Helena meal for the occasion.

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