An industry takes flight in Georgetown’s skies (Part II) : –The first 50 years of aviation in Guyana
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Guyana will, on March 24, observe the 100th anniversary of the coming of the aeroplane to the local skies. For historical purposes, the following article is the first of a three-part series based on information extracted from the book, ‘Fifty Years of Flying’, written by H.S. Burrowes, and published in 1963. ON THE one occasion Art Williams and Harry Wendt took off to deliver mail to the Rupununi Development Company at Dadanawa, the rancher  had to accompany them to show them where to land, and pointed out a pond in front of the Dadanawa Ranch House.
To alight on the pond, Art had to make a ‘dead- stick (engine off) landing very short and crossways to the prevailing winds.
He took off an hour later by tying a lasso to a tree, and running it through the ‘tie-down’ ring of the rear end of the Ireland Wasp’s hull and back around another tree, where a rancher held it until the engine was warm and revving at full throttle. On a signal from Art, the rancher  severed the lasso, and the plane took off.
When another Rupununi rancher’s wife was dangerously ill in the Rupununi, Art, who went to fly her out, landed in a small pond near Pirara, and took off by the same tie-to-tree method.
The landings and take-offs at Dadanawa and Pirara made aviation world news, and time and again, Art Williams and Harry Wendt demonstrated their flying skills to bring a welcome change in the life of residents in the Rupununi District. Instead of having to wait weeks for mail, they received their letters and papers in two days.
Towards the end of 1935, the name of Paul Redfern, the American pilot who was several days overdue on a flight from Puerto Rico to Rio de Janeiro, again hit the headlines, and Art Williams, accompanied by Edward Sills, made a search of the Guiana and Brazilian jungles, where it was reported that Redfern had been living among Amerindian tribes. But four Brazilian officers, who claimed to have seen Redfern’s grave, confirmed his death.

B.G. Airways
With work on the British Guiana Boundary Commission in full swing, it became necessary to acquire another Ireland Wasp towards the end of 1936.
In 1938, Art Williams registered a private company known as the British Guiana Airways Limited, and the aircraft and equipment were stored at the Ruimveldt Ramp.
The immense value of an internal air service as a means of communication was appreciated by many, and the government of the day decided to enter into a contract with B.G.  Airways.
At the outbreak of World War II, Williams and Wendt volunteered for service, and were put on anti-submarine patrols. Later, Williams was called to military service with the rank of Major in the U.S Air force. Having acquired many years of invaluable experience throughout British Guiana, Major Williams rendered outstanding services to the U.S military authorities.
The selection of Atkinson Field, and the development of airstrips in the northern and southern Rupununi  savannahs and in other parts of the country are attributable to the expert advice and supervision of Major Williams  during his service in the US Army Air Force.
On April 1, 1942, Major Williams, accompanied by Thomas Persaud — one of the boys he had trained and, incidentally, the first local employee of British Guiana Airways — flew his Ireland Wasp into the Orinoco Delta and rescued 20 men from a US Army plane which had lost its way, and had crash-landed on the Venezuelan Coast.
But the most important rescue Art would ever make was in May 1943, when a US C54, which was carrying headquarters staff to China with gold bullion, made a forced landing on the Ituribisi River.
Major Williams had to put his plane down in a narrow part of the river, where the space was barely sufficient to accommodate the wingspan of the Ireland Wasp.

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