12th February 1934

Plane gets lost coming out of Jersey

The world of air travel was very different in the 1930s. Jersey didn’t even have an airport: planes took off from and landed on the beach at St Aubin’s. They also fended for themselves when they got lost.

That’s precisely what happened on 12 February 1934 when a Jersey Airways flight from Jersey to Portsmouth got lost in the English Channel as the fog brought visibility down to less than 20 feet. With no radar, and unable to radio for help, chief pilot JB Caldwell came low and buzzed around, looking for landmarks. He told the Portsmouth Evening News, “I flew east towards the Nab Tower, then west for about ten minutes but it was impossible to get through. I must have been about four miles away from the island at the time… I turned around again and flew back to Cape La Hague and landed [in Jersey] at 20 minutes to five”.

It’s not unusual for incoming planes to turn around as they approach the Channel Islands if fog has rolled in but, unlike in pilot Caldwell’s day, the operation is now authorised by ground controllers to avoid collisions.


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