31st May 1937

Multi-engined aircraft start flying into Jersey

Jersey Airport had been open just two months when it welcomed its first multi-engine aircraft, which flew in from Shoreham Airport (Brighton).

Operated by Jersey Airways, the new aircraft cut the journey time from the mainland to “just” an hour and 20 minutes. This was a considerable saving on the length of time it took to fly from Southampton. To give the new service even greater appeal, the Southern Electric railway company made sure its timetables were synchronised with flights.

A combined journey

A ticket from Shoreham or Exeter to Jersey cost £2 and 15 shillings single, or £4 return. London to Jersey, a 90 minute flight, was £3 single and £5 return. The cheapest route was between Jersey and Southampton, which cost just £1, 17 shilling and sixpence single, and £3, two shillings and sixpence both ways.

In return, passengers would be transported on De Havilland Express aircraft, which each had four engines, a top speed of 175mph and a cruising speed of 145mph. This was impressive at the time, but they were small compared to modern aircraft, being capable of carrying just fourteen passengers plus a pilot and first officer.

Media interest

The new planes elicited considerable media excitement, and it wasn’t only on the Shoreham route that they were reducing journey times. The Western Gazette reported that “a multi-engined liner, piloted by Captain B Walker, left Jersey airport at 6.25am with 26 bags of mail and landed at Southampton airport at 7.30, precisely on schedule. Fifteen minutes later a machine piloted by Captain WB Caldwell, Jersey Airways’ chief pilot, took off from Southampton with ten bags of mail, and landed at Jersey at 8.50.”

One of the first passengers on the new service was Gerald Tyrell. Although the papers reported that he emerged from the plane smiling, he was unable to give them a comment, as he was only a baby.


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