The arrival of the first aircraft to land on St Helena was just about the most momentous event for the island since Napoleon had stepped ashore almost exactly 200 years earlier, in October 1815. The world’s media barely mentioned it, despite the £250m or more that it cost British taxpayers to build an airport for the plane to land on.
The Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, who once flew round the island in his private aircraft, tweeted a cutting of a story in The Times by Michael Binyon – the distinguished journalist brought in by Governor Mark Capes to train media staff on the island.
Days later, Lord Ashcroft became the centre of a media storm with revelations about UK prime minister David Cameron.
The Guardian had a full write-up, two days after the aircraft touched down on Prosperous Bay Plain. “It was an unusual flight, to an unusual airport, in an unusual place,” wrote Emma Weaver, who emphasised the huge logistical challenges involved in the airport construction project.
“I honestly can’t describe today,” she said. “Years of planning and thousands of man hours have gone into this moment and to actually see it happen is an immense feeling.”
US-based Air & Space website noted that new airports were a rarity in modern times. “But this new airport is particularly significant. It’s the only one for nearly a thousand miles in any direction, mostly because there’s not much of anything in any direction.”