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Flying boats in Guernsey's skies and waters
Cataline seaplane
The last seaplane to visit Guernsey was a Catalina in the 2006 air display

Guernsey was not always so reliant on the runway in the south of the island for its air travel links to the UK and France.

The first aircraft to land in Guernsey were more likely to be seen on the beach at L'Ancresse or in the harbour.

Seaplanes were a common sight in Guernsey before World War II.

Harbourmaster captain Peter Gill said though they still operate around the world they were unlikely to return to Guernsey.

He said: "It's a wonderful idea, unfortunately at the moment the legislation suggests otherwise... the 1988 Harbour Ordnance prohibits seaplanes from Guernsey Harbour areas except in an emergency."

The last seaplane to land in Guernsey was not carrying passengers and was involved in filming for the television series Howard's Way in the mid-1980s.

Guernsey's involvement with flying boats, as they were otherwise known, was at its peak in the mid 1920s with a specifically built set of hangers and facilities on the castle emplacement at what is now the model yacht pond.

These were operated by a French company and originally used to escort convoys between France and England at the end of the First World War.

201 Squadron seaplane model
201 (Guernsey's Own) Squadron flew seaplanes like this for many years

One of the sheds, used as a mess hall at the Castle Emplacement, can still be seen and is still used, though now as a house at Jerbourg.

Seaplane Bungalow was originally built from parts of one of the sheds auctioned off to the public.

Though it has been extended with more traditional building materials the original hut still stands looking out from the cliffs to Sark and Jersey.

Current owner Maggie Talbot-Cull said: "My grandpa brought it at auction for £90 and carried it back with horses and carts and put it up at Jerbourg as his summer home... We've built on it but the original building is still inside."

Although a seaplane has not landed in Guernsey since the 1980s one visited the island in 2006 as part of the Battle of Britain air display.

Local associations to seaplanes also stretch to the military as 201 (Guernsey's Own) Squadron operated seaplanes during the World War II.

L'Eree Aerodrome
The aerodrome at L'Eree was the first regularly used airstrip in Guernsey

Flying in a seaplane is a rather different experience from its more conventional land-based cousin. Lesley Le Page had the chance to experience seaplane flight first hand on a visit to Scotland.

She said: "It wasn't nearly as bumpy as I expected it to be - there's a sort of thrumming noise that comes up through the floats as you take off... Coming back down was a little bit different, I actually didn't know we'd hit the water until I saw the spray coming up by the window."

Marking the link to 201 Squadron
10 Jan 11 |  History



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