26th August 1912
The first aircraft lands in Jersey
Pilot Jean Benoît (sometimes spelled Benoist) landed the first aircraft on Jersey, bringing it down on the beach at St Aubin’s Bay as part of a race from St Malo to the island and back, organised by the French Automobile Club. The same beach was later used for commercial air services prior to the airport’s construction.
Looking back on the event when its 100th anniversary came around, the Jersey Evening Post related how he was “greeted by crowds as large as those who now gather for the September Air Display. And those crowds also saw other pilots – who, with M Benoît, were taking part in the St Malo air races of 1912 – arrive safely in the bay and take off again for the return journey to France.”
Won the battle, lost the war
While Benoît, who was carrying two passengers, may have gone down in history as the first man to land a plane on Jersey, he didn’t win the race, as Jersey was a turning point, and St Malo both the start and end. Rather, the winner was Charles Terres Waymann, in a Nieuport VI hydroplane, with Benoît coming third. Benoît completed the round journey in two hours 49 minutes, a full hour and nine minutes behind the winner.
As The Yorkshire Evening Post of 26 August 1912 reported, “the St Malo race is notable as being the first case in which waterplanes have been actually engaged in organised competition, and because it is the first occasion on which the inhabitants of the Channel Islands have seen flying machines”.
The spot where Jean Benoît landed is now commemorated by a plaque mounted on a nearby wall. That probably makes him the longer-term winner overall.
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Other events that occured in August
First direct rail services link St Helier to Corbière
- Jersey Railway was completed in stages, with services connecting La Corbiere to the capital not starting for 15 years.
- Read more…