Committee planning centenary celebrations of aviation in Guyana


A COMMITTEE comprising persons in the local aviation industry is forging ahead with plans for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first ever aircraft flight in Guyana.
The occasion is to be celebrated in March 2013 but prior events will be officially started in January 2012 and staged intermittently, a spokesperson disclosed. History records that the first ever aeroplane, or heavier than air flight, locally took off at 07:00hrs on March 24, 1913.
The aviator was a German-American named George Schmitt and his aircraft a rudimentary looking eight-cylinder machine.
Guyanese historian Godfrey Chin recalled that Schmitt was on a tour of the Caribbean and South America at the time and his flying from Bel Air on March 24, 1913 was a festive event.
Sponsorship was provided by Sprostons and the Booker Group of Companies which, in turn, charged the public an entrance fee as spectators. 
The Demerara Railroad arranged special trains and Sprostons put on a special river excursion.
Schmitt’s first attempt, on Saturday, March 23, had to be aborted when one of the eight cylinders of the engine failed.
However, just after 07:00hrs on the following day, he sped down the Bel Air Park race course in the plane and then soared into the sky.
Residents of Georgetown, who had not seen the take-off, heard the strange sound in the air and looked up in awe at the spectacle.
Schmitt, reportedly dropped pieces of paper as he flew over the city.
The daring aviator died the following year when his aircraft engine failed and it crashed.
The local aviation industry became established in the then British Guiana a few years after that historic flight, with most flights into the hinterland for transportation and survey purposes and, generally, making the resources in the interior more easily accessible and the lives of residents more comfortable since then.
The Committee, which will organise the commemorative programme leading up to the 100th anniversary and during the week in 2013 itself, is named ‘Celebrating 100 years of aviation in Guyana’.
It includes representatives of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Management of the Ogle International Airport, the Aircraft Engineering School and local aircraft companies, such as Air Services Limited, Jags Aviation and Wings Aviation. Involved, too, are members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Air Corps and Chin of Godfrey’s Nostalgia Pizazz Production.
The inauguration of the ‘100 years of Aviation in Guyana Commemorative Committee’ will take place on January 27, 2012 in the GuySuCo  hangar at Ogle International Airport.
There will be three short power point presentations on aviation in the early, middle and present stages; a photographic display, a short ceremony; and a range of other activities, among them a re-enactment of the flight of George Schmitt will be disclosed on that date.