Today: April 20 2019
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Limassol - Cyprus First Air Harbor!

And - literally :) Yes as no surprise, but it was the first city of Limassol in Cyprus, which was organized by regular passenger air service. In view of the runway on the ground, "airfield" started waters of the Gulf, where the April 19 1932 year splashed seaplane Short S.8 Calcutta, bringing first passengers and mail from the UK and Greece.

Limassol has become an intermediate point in the intercontinental regular commercial flights, organized by Imperial Airways. Despite the fact that Nicosia has already 2 years functioned RAF airfield, passenger aircraft at the time did not have aircraft capable of carrying comfortably large number of passengers on such a distance.

Seemingly anachronistic and unreliable seaplane Short S.8, designed specifically to serve the needs of the British Empire in the Mediterranean in 1928, offered 15 passengers an unprecedented comfort for those times with a heated cabin and airborne meals. Such a flight from London to Calcutta could last more than a week, depending on the weather and the route. I must say that the flights through Limassol lasted only until 30 October 1932, when the route with the transit through the then British Palestine, where the planes were boarding the water of Tiberias Lake, was changed to the previously installed one, with a landing in Alexandria. Apparently, the calculations that French passengers will fly to neighboring Syria, were not justified.

It is worth, perhaps, separately to stay at the airline Imperial Airways. Despite its private origin, this enterprise was a direct recipient of grants from the government in the framework of a special program for the development of passenger air travel within the British Empire. The company's planes carried mail and passengers, and sometimes military cargoes to all corners of the globe: from India to New Zealand and South Africa. Not surprisingly, the Short S.8 Calcutta aircraft, which proved to be civilian, served as the basis for the conversion of the car into a military version built in 1934. Subsequently, the company, by merging with Australian partner Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd) and New Zealand's TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Ltd), was transformed by BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) into 1939, which, after being nationalized in 1974 with British European Airways Corporation (and a number of local British carriers) became the basis of all the famous British Airways.

The aircraft docked at the pier opposite the current campus of the Faculty of Economics of the Cyprus University of Technology, at that time it was a hotel that was no longer Vienna, as in the picture, but Grand hotel Continental (I did not have an exact date for renaming yet). The plane stayed in the city until 23 April, after which it flew to Haifa. All these days, the unprecedented campaign of the local press continued in the press, which, otherwise, can not be called a furor. The embankment and dock became a place of pilgrimage not only for the people of Limassol, but also specially arrived to look at the technical achievement of the inhabitants of other cities. By the way, for some reason, transit passengers did not live in a coastal hotel, but settled in other places. On board the seaplane, 4 local passenger arrived in the city, according to some sources among them were the director of the postal service of Cyprus and the mayor of Christodoulos Hadjipavlu. The remaining 4 passengers and the 4 crew member continued their flight to India via Palestine. Let me remind you that the previous flight from Rhodes lasted almost 7 hours.

In addition to passengers, the aircraft for the first time brought to Limassol mail and fresh (relatively) English newspapers. Being late on the day after the departure of 3 16 April in London at the time could only be called a super-fast delivery.

But, on this the history of Limassol, associated with aviation, does not end. Another, no less surprisingly unknown fact, is the existence of a military airfield of the British Air Force in the city. Until the end of the 30-ies of the last century, the British Air Force did not particularly need to have an additional airfield on the island, limited to the existing base in Nicosia. However, the growing threat from Germany and Italy forced the military command to create a backup for the Nicosia airfield, which was explained both by the need for diversification and by the growth in the volume of air transportation. In themselves, the WFP in Cyprus had no special military significance, fighter and bomber aviation was perfectly well managed by the Middle East airfields. But, from the point of view of logistics, the terminals for goods and personnel in Cyprus were very much in demand. In 1938, the construction of an airfield to the south-west of the inhabited part of the city began. Land plots formerly used for agricultural purposes were acquired on conditions close to confiscation.

The airfield, located on the south-west of the inhabited part of the city, occupied the territory that began from the intersection of Vasileos Pavlou and Pafou streets, crossing the Omonoias avenue and ending at today's Carrefour Superstore. Initially, for the construction and maintenance of the airport, mobilized local residents, primarily unemployed and day laborers, were recruited. For these people for a dozen years, work has become a source of relatively low, but guaranteed earnings. The name NAAFI, which is an abbreviation for the English "military" and familiar to the people of Limassol, is directly related to the existence of the airport. In the warehouses located in these places, sorting and processing of the cargoes, brought and sent from the airfield, passed. In 1948, the airfield was closed after the decision to deploy the Air Force Base in Akrotiri. One of the arguments in favor of liquidating a potentially commercially attractive airport conservation project was the difficulty in recruiting and training personnel from local residents capable of replacing demobilized servicemen. After the return of the territory to the owners, gradually the terrain began to be built up by residential and household buildings. WFP was used for a long time as a training road for driving schools, finally disappearing to the middle of the 70.

Unfortunately, no photo documents relating to the airfield in Limassol has been preserved. Traces of existence can only be found in the toponymy: still periptera kiosk on the street called Miltonos ΑΕΡΟΔΡΟΜΙΟ, a power substation in the Omonia in the church of St. Spyridon officially named Air Strip.. In addition, Sv.Spiridona School (pictured above), opened at the end of the year 1969, also was called Δημοτικό Λεμεσού - Παλαιού Αεροδρομίου (municipal school - the old airport), which is reflected in numerous forms and stamps stored graduates of those years.

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