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First Flight . . . Jamaica 1911

Other 'First Flights'

Jesse Seligman
Promoting the event
Wednesday December 20
Thursday December 21
. . . and on to Panama
Other 'First Flights'
On from 1911 . . .
Useful links


Early aviators soon fanned out into the Caribbean region, and by the start of World War I people in many of the countries had at least seen aeroplanes flying over their cities. It was not until after the war, however, that flight, like radio, began to become a common phenomenon.

Below are brief references to 'First Flights' in the Caribbean region.


1910 May

Cuba - Jose León Dueñas, a Cuban, records that on 7 May 1910 "Frenchman Andre Bellot, for a few brief minutes, flew in (Cuban) space, in a 50 H.P. Voisin biplane, which departed from the Almenares racetrack and crashed violently but without grave consequences for the pilot."

1911 May

Mexico - the airplane had already been demonstrated South of the Rio Grande, specifically in Mexico, where in May 1911, triumphant President Francisco Madero agreed to climb into the aircraft being demonstrated by Alfred Moisant, thus becoming the first head of a government to fly in an airplane.

1911 December

Jamaica - Mr. Seligman knew that he was introducing aeroplaning to the public of Jamaica - that no aviator had ever before given an exhibition of the art of flying in this island. (referring to flight on Dec 20)

1912 January

Costa Rica - On January 1 Jesse Seligman flew his plane at the Savannah in San Jose; because of strong winds the flight was very brief and there was much disappointment on the part of the crowd which had come to watch the event. [Information from "Daily Gleaner"; this item will be updated further.]

1912 April

Panama - Clarence DeGiers, who had Jessie Seligman's plane brought over to the Pacific side, on Sunday, April 21,1912, flew at La Cabana in the Juan Franco Field in front of 4000 people to be the first and win the prize.

1912 September

Venezuela - On September 29, 1912, a North American pilot named Frank Boland cranked up his sixty-horsepower canvas-and-wood biplane and took to the skies over Caracas. His fifty-kilometer flight around the city ended with a soft landing in front of the presidential box at el Paraiso race track. A band played. The crowd applauded wildly. Government officials motioned Boland to the presidential box, where they would talk more about what such a contraption could do for their country. When the talk ended, Venezuelan aviation history began.

The flight lasted 27 minutes and the biplane covered a distance of 50 kilometers at an altitude of 5,000 feet.

1913 January

Trinidad - An American called Frank Boland was the first. Ten years after the Wright Brothers had made their first motor flight, Boland alighted on the Savannah with his little bi-plane in January 1913.

A demonstration was scheduled for the 23rd, and hundreds of Trinidadians came out in their Sunday best, the ladies in long skirts, carrying parasols, and the men in elegant hats. Boland took off and most of the spectators saw the wonder of a flying machine in action for the first time!

A few minutes later, however, tragedy struck: when Boland attempted to land near the hollows at the western end of the Savannah, he lost control of his plane in wind turbulences and crashed into the ground, leaving the watching crowd in shock. Two doctors who rushed to the scene were unable to save him. He probably died instantly. The body was taken to the Colonial Hospital and the next day to Rosary Church for the funeral. Frank Boland was buried at the Lapeyrousse Cemetery.

1913 March

British Guiana - The first aeroplane was flown in British Guiana in March 1913. The components of the aeroplane were brought to the Colony by George Schmidt and assembled at a race course in Bel Air Park; he flew his mono-plane over Georgetown, after taking off from the race course.

A 1910 Moisant plane



Information on this page was found chiefly in material on the websites listed below:

Site authored by Joy Lumsden, M A (Cantab) Ph D (UWI)


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