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Read articles about St Helena

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Wear the old coat and buy the new book.
Austin Phelps

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Read how St Helena has been reported in the world’s media.

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St Helena is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, but despite that it occasionally manages to feature in main-stream news. The following are news items featuring St Helena. Unless stated otherwise they are reproduced{1} in full and unedited, even where they contain errors. These are the most recent items; older items are here.

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Our Library, next to Castle Gardens in Jamestown

Please note that this does not claim to be a comprehensive or exhaustive list of everything ever published about St Helena. That would be a massive task and would require a government grant to complete the work{2}. This selection represents items that a) came to our attention; and b) interested us enough for us to transcribe them. If you have published something about St Helena and it isn’t included here you might want to contact us and tell us about it.

If you want to read about how St Helena has been mis-reported, see our Do they mean us? page.

Below: St Helena expats from ‘Swindolena’ to gather for sports day this weekendRemote St Helena Airport shrugs off ‘World’s Most Useless’ tagSt Helena’s cherished lifeline ship to return as anti-piracy armoryNew British postage labels feature ships that have carried the mailEnd of an era as RMS St Helena makes final voyage from Cape TownSt Helena: The island where everyone knows your nameUnusual Coverage!Is world’s oldest tortoise GAY?Napoleon, tourists, divers and flu: flight opens up remote St HelenaFirst commercial flight touches down at St Helena


St Helena expats from ‘Swindolena’ to gather for sports day this weekend 

By Daniel Angelini, Swindon Advertiser, 24th August 2018{1}

DID you know that Swindon is known as ‘Swindolena’ to St Helena expats?

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St Helena

The town is known to residents of the remote island by this nickname because of its large community of expats, known as Saints, from that island.

St Helena, located in the South Atlantic, is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and its current population is around 4,300 people.

The UK’s largest gathering of St Helena expats takes place over this Bank Holiday weekend on Saturday and Sunday in Reading this weekend.

Expat Saints from across the country will gather at Reading Abbey Rugby Football Club for a weekend of fun activities at the annual St Helena Sport Day.

The event has been taking place in Reading for nearly 40 years and is organised by the charitable St Helena Association.

To find out more, visit sthelenasportsday.com{4}.

See also: Reading SportsSport in St Helena

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Remote St Helena Airport shrugs off ‘World’s Most Useless’ tag 

By Andreas Spaeth, Airline Ratings, 27th April 2018{1}

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The E190 at St Helena

The airport on the remote British Overseas Territory island St Helena, once dismissed as the world’s most useless airport by British media, is proving to be a reliable asset.

The airport, built for 285m British Pounds ($A521m) in taxpayer’s money, opened on the South Atlantic island in June 2016 but it took another year from it to be certified to receive commercial passenger jets.

The originally planned Boeing 737-800 flights by Comair (flying as a British Airways franchise) from Johannesburg didn’t materialize after severe wind shear was detected on the first test flight in April, 2016.

In October 2017, after another bidding process was won by private South African regional carrier Airlink, regularly scheduled flights to one of the most far-away places on the globe started with one weekly flight from Johannesburg with a fuel stop in Windhoek/Namibia.

The airline now utilizes its two factory-fresh Embraer E190ARs with increased gross weight and extra thrust.

Official statistics by the St Helena government show that from October 2016 to February 2018 a total of 1,417 passengers arrived on the Airlink flights and 1,386 departed. And that was while the sole former link to the outside world, the mail ship RMS St Helena needing five days one way to reach Cape Town, was finally decommissioned only in February, 2018.

Overall, operations have been unexpectedly smooth and on-time on average, with just one flight having had to be postponed and rescheduled due to weather in the first half year of operations.

Between the airport’s opening in June 2016 and March 21, 2018, there were a total of 81 aircraft movements carrying 3,376 passengers, among them 16 medevac flights operated exclusively by Guardian Air out of Lanseria airport near Johannesburg.

The demand for seats has exceeded expectations, Airlink CEO Rodger Foster told airlineratings.com.

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St Helena Airport

The Saints, as the 4,300 islanders call themselves, desperately hope for more than just one weekly service. There are hints this might happen later in 2018 as South African and Namibian authorities negotiate on issues related to routing and fifth freedom rights.

But these seem tiny issues compared to connecting one of the world’s most remote islands to international aviation, a major milestone in St Helena’s history, an island famous for being the place in which exiled French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to live the last years of his life from 1815 to his death in 1821.

The closest land is neighboring Ascension Island, occupied solely by a military air base, 1,131km to the northwest, and also a British Overseas Territory. To reach the next continent, Africa, one needs to travel 1,950km to the east to reach the city of Namib in Angola. Turning west it takes 2,900km to get to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

The extreme location and the current low passenger market volume, as St Helena tries to build up a tourism industry and hopes for tens of thousands of visitors per year in the future, makes it difficult to make commercial flights economically viable.

Balancing the economics of these flights is a serious challenge as due to its remoteness and the concomitant logistics issues, fuel at the island is extremely expensive, as are all other aspects of aircraft handling due mainly to the very low passenger traffic volume, says Foster.

One major criticism involves ticket prices, which start at 804 pounds (AUD 1,470) return in economy. These are not discounted for Saints, making the journey by air unaffordable for a populace earning an average annual income of just 8,000 pounds.

The UK government underwrites the air service, St Helena governor Lisa Honan tells airlineratings.com. If the average load factor drops below 48 passengers per flight, the UK government will pay for the losses.

Initially only up to 76 of the 98 seats were sold, with two extra ones occupied by Airlink maintenance mechanics monitoring the aircraft en route and on the ground.

Now, thanks to two aircraft with enhanced engines, 87 seats can be sold.

In December 2017 Airlink got its first leased E190AR aircraft, equipped with CF34-10E6 engines instead of the E5 variant. This offers thrust increased by 1,000lbf to a total of 21,000lbf per engine.

The additional performance offers an advantage in hot and high situations such as prevalent on departure from Windhoek at 5,640ft/1,719m of altitude for St Helena, explains the CEO. The ambient temperatures at Windhoek during summer can be high, often more than 35°C and the E6 engines will enable an increase in payload by approximately 1,200kgs, which is of material benefit especially in terms of revenue opportunity.

When airlineratings.com took flight SA8131, the one-hour refueling stop in Windhoek is used to fill the two tanks almost to capacity, giving Captain Johann Du Toit 13 tons of fuel.

That is enough for an endurance of six hours, taking us to St Helena, do several approaches and if need be continue on to Ascension as our alternate airport including extra provisions, Du Toit points out. Though a point of no return (PNR) is calculated over the ocean, it’s more academic than of practical importance. It’s done to ensure ETOPS doesn’t live up to its nickname: Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim.

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On Approach

About three hours after taking off from Windhoek, the approach into St Helena’s main runway 20 starts. Captain Du Toit announces he might have to go around.

This is apparently his reading of wind shear warnings in the cockpit, and enough for some fearful flyers to cover their faces in terror. Then the routine announcement on these flights is made by the flight attendant:

Approaches to St Helena can experience turbulence, please make sure your seat belts are fastened tightly.

Only minutes before touchdown, the island, a tiny rocky pancake of land becomes visible in the endless Atlantic.

On the two-mile final for runway 20 aircraft are usually hit by swirling updrafts while battling crosswinds. Today, a short moment of light turbulence occurs, followed by a very smooth landing without any hitch.

This is because just after the threshold, having been relocated 280m down the runway and leaving a Landing Distance Available (LDA) of 1,550m, the wind dies down, due to the shelter the King and Queen pinnacles on the left provide.

After a flight time of 3:22 hours from Windhoek, another scheduled flight to this formerly almost inaccessible island has landed safely and on time. Proving again that the label as the world’s most useless airport is utter nonsense.

See also: Fly here

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St Helena’s cherished lifeline ship to return as anti-piracy armory 

By Joe Brock, www.reuters.com, 18th April 2018{1}

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The RMS St. Helena, Britain’s last working postal ship, was for nearly three decades the main source of contact between one of humanity’s remotest islands and the outside world.

The Royal Mail Ship St Helena lies berthed in Cape Town harbour South Africa Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
The Royal Mail Ship St Helena lies berthed in Cape Town harbour, South Africa

Now the ship, cherished by the 4,500 residents of British-ruled St. Helena, will start a new life as a floating armory, packed with automatic weapons, bullet-proof jackets and night vision goggles, all stored for maritime security operatives.

Renamed the MNG Tahiti, the 340-foot ship will undergo some tweaks before sailing to the Gulf of Oman where it will be used to ferry guns and guards to passing vessels navigating stretches of water lurking with pirates, its new operator said on Tuesday.

The ship is good to go with a few adjustments, said Mark Gray, a former British Royal Marine and founder of floating armory firm MNG Maritime. By the middle of the year we hope to have her operating.

Tahiti Shipping, a subsidiary of MNG Maritime, bought the ship for an undisclosed fee on Tuesday, the St. Helena government said in a statement.

The construction last year of a commercial airport on the isolated island in the middle of the South Atlantic rendered the 156-passenger ship obsolete, prompting St. Helena authorities to put it up for sale and begin planning a gala farewell.

Before weekly flights to South Africa began in October, a five-night voyage to Cape Town on the RMS St. Helena was the only major transport route off an island made famous as the windswept outpost where French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte died.

The yellow-funnelled ship was purpose-built by the British government in 1989 to service the island and is the last of a royal mail fleet that once connected the far-flung tentacles of the old British Empire.

Its final voyage was marked with a public holiday on St. Helena, with flag-waving crowds gathering on the rocky coastline to catch one last glimpse of the ship that had delivered them everything from car parts to Christmas turkeys.

A flotilla of fishing vessels and yachts flanked the ship with those on board popping champagne corks as plumes of balloons were released into the sky to cheers from St. Helena residents, known locally as ‘Saints’.

I fully appreciate the role this vessel has played in all ‘Saints’ lives, MNG Maritime’s Gray said. It is not a responsibility we take on lightly. We will continue to treat her in the manner to which she has become accustomed.

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MNG Tahiti, 2018.{a}

See also: RMS St Helena

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New British postage labels feature ships that have carried the mail 

By Denise McCarty, Linns’ Stamp News, 16th February 2018{1}

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Royal Mail issued new post & go self-adhesive postage labels Feb. 14th featuring six ships, representing the history of mail transportation by sea.

A generic New York City skyline of the 1930s is pictured on a new self-adhesive postage label from Great Britain’s Royal Mail. The label is part of a set of six designs focusing on the theme of mail by sea.

Issued Feb. 14th, Mail by Sea is the fourth set in the Royal Mail Heritage series with the theme of mail transportation. The previous three sets in the series were Transport (Feb. 17th, 2016), Mail by Rail (Feb. 15th, 2017), and Mail by Air (Sept. 13th, 2017).

Royal Mail calls such labels ‘post & go.’ The service inscriptions are printed at the time of purchase.

The label showing the New York City skyline honors RMS Queen Mary, which made its maiden voyage May 27th, 1936. In announcing the new post & go labels, Royal Mail said that with the advent of Queen Mary, mail could be transported from England to New York to less than four days.

This flagship of the Cunard Line transported more than the mail.

The website said: For three years after her maiden voyage, the Queen Mary was the grandest ocean liner in the world carrying Hollywood celebrities like Bob Hope and Clark Gable, royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and dignitaries like Winston Churchill. During this time she even set a new speed record, which she held for 14 years. But when the Queen Mary docked in New York in September 1939 that would be the last time she would carry civilian passengers for many years.

After serving as a troop ship during World War II, Queen Mary returned to passenger service in July 1947. Twenty years later, Queen Mary made its last voyage, arriving in Long Beach, Calif., Dec. 6th, 1967, where it remains as a floating hotel, attraction, and event and wedding venue.

The other five labels cover more than 200 years in sea mail history, from the packet Antelope in 1780 to RMS St. Helena in 1990.

Antelope was captured twice by the French, in 1781 and 1782. In 1783, the packet’s crew successfully fought off the French privateer Atalanta. Among other awards, the crew were praised for the successul protection of the mail by postmaster general of the United Kingdon, Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl of Chesterfield.

St. Helena was designed and built to carry mail, cargo and passengers to and from the remote South Atlantic island after which she is named, according to Royal Mail.

The ship’s website reports: She is one of only two ocean-going vessels in the world still to carry the venerable title of Royal Mail Ship, held in the past by so many famous British passenger liners.

The site also describes the range of supplies the ship carries to St. Helena as wind turbines to automotive parts; sheep, goats, and Christmas turkeys to furniture, food and paint.

The other three labels depict SS Great Western, 1838; SS Britannia, 1887; and RMS Olympic, 1911.

Designed by engineer Isambard Brunel, Great Western was the first steamship built for the purpose of crossing the Atlantic. In 1847, this steamship was sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.

The passenger liner Britannia set a record in November 1887 carrying the mail from Brindisi, Italy, to Adelaide, Australia, in 23 days and 10 hours.

The sister ship to RMS Titantic, RMS Olympic was the largest British-built passenger ship in regular service before the introduction of Queen Mary. Like the Titanic, Olympic included a dedicated post office and mail room.

Royal Mail Group Ltd. designed the labels, using illustrations by Andrew Davidson. International Security Printers printed them by gravure. Each label measures 56 millimeters by 25mm.

These postage labels are available from terminals in post office branches throughout the United Kingdom. The terminals allow customers to weigh their letters and packages, pay the postage, and print the appropriate label.

Royal Mail is offering a first-day cover franked with all six Mail by Sea labels. The labels also are packaged with a carrier card that includes additional information about the history of carrying mail by sea.

See also: RMS St Helena

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End of an era as RMS St Helena makes final voyage from Cape Town 

Travveler 24, 25th January 2018{1}

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Pre-departure ceremony
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Sailing out

Cape Town - A British ship that was once a lifeline to the outside world for St Helena has begun its last voyage to the remote South Atlantic island where Napoleon died in exile.

The RMS St Helena on Wednesday, 24th January left the South African city of Cape Town on a final round-trip journey of three weeks to St. Helena and Ascension, another British-ruled island. After that, another ship will transport cargo about once a month to St Helena.

The only means of regular passenger travel will be by air, thanks to a South African airline that started a weekly commercial flight in October after the delayed opening of an airport.

Ship mechanic Lionel Peters says the ‘royal mail’ vessel, which sailed to St. Helena for nearly three decades, will be missed.

Cut off from the rest of the world for centuries, St Helena, which lies isolated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is now reachable by plane for the first time.

The aviation breakthrough has promises to lift the British-run territory from obscurity and bring it within reach of international tourists. The arrival of the first commercial flight in 2017 was also a relief for islanders frustrated by a delay to the opening because of high winds.

After years of procrastination, London gave the green light in 2011 a full runway on the island. The ambition was to bring it within six hours of mainland Africa instead of the five days previously needed to make the ocean voyage from Cape Town. British officials hoped that 30,000 tourists a year would visit the island, which is home to just 4,500 residents - known as ‘Saints’.

See also: RMS St HelenaFly hereVisitor Information

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St Helena: The island where everyone knows your name 

By Emma Thomson, ‘Stuff’, New Zealand, 29th December 2017{1}

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The control tower and terminal buildings are seen from the window of a passenger plane as it takes off from St Helena airport
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The RMS St Helena sails in the harbour in Jamestown
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Napoleon’s Tomb lies in a clearing near Alarm Forest, Saint Helena. The French Emperor was exiled to the island before dying in 1821, with his body returning to France in 1840
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St Paul’s Cathedral in Saint Paul’s, Saint Helena
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Old graffiti welcoming the RMS St Helena adorns a deserted World War II gun emplacements at the harbour
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A man poses for a photograph at the top of the 699-step Jacob’s Ladder
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Travellers disembark the second scheduled passenger flight at St Helena airport in Prosperous Bay, Saint Helena
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A view of the harbour in Jamestown, Saint Helena

I’m going to break the first rule of travel writing and mention the view from the aircraft window. In this case, you see, it really is important. For four hours, cotton-ball clouds had been rolled out across an unbroken blanket of blue.

Cabin crew to seats, please, instructed the captain, his voice tight with nervous concentration.

Seated aboard only the second commercial flight to St Helena - one of the world’s most remote islands - I’m among the very first to see her like this.

For half a millennium she’s only ever been seen from the sea: an impenetrable ring of volcanic rock hunched against the restless Atlantic waves. Now I can glimpse her emerald interior of mist-laced, fern-filled forests. The only chink in her armour is a candy-coloured clutch of buildings squeezed into a 1000ft ravine - the capital, Jamestown.

The new airport - built at a cost of £285.5 million (NZ$541.3m) - was due to open last year, but suffered a series of setbacks while they solved the problem of wind shear - essentially updrafts of ocean wind that hit the rocks and churn upwards, pushing the plane down.

It was dubbed the world’s most useless airport, but that’s unfair. Parking on a pebble is downright tricky.

Only four pilots in the world are currently qualified to fly into St Helena, says Jaco Henning, the man who was responsible for landing the inaugural flight on October 14.

We’ve been training intensively since March.

Until now, if you wanted to reach St Helena it would have taken five nights sailing aboard the RMS St Helena from Cape Town - a seafaring tradition that hasn’t changed in more than 500 years, since the island was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502.

It is hoped the new airport will bring the chance of self-sufficiency to an island previously dependent on aid from DfID, Britain’s Department for International Development. Now I don’t have to wait three weeks for my next client, explained Aaron Legg, a fifth-generation ‘saint’ - as locals are known - who has combined 4x4 adventure tours with his family’s tradition of farming.

It will mean I can actually run a business.

Reversing his vehicle up an off-road track to an outcrop called Flagstaff, he suggested we get out and hike towards the peak. The trees were hunched over protectively against the ceaseless wind; beneath them sprang delicate yellow flowers.

Everlastings, said Aaron, gently cupping the petals. The seeds were sent over by Lady Holland to Napoleon [who was exiled here at Longwood House] and now they’re everywhere. St Helena is a melting pot of plants - hibiscus, bananas, flax - and people - Indians, Madagascans, Sri Lankans and Chinese - who have passed through here over the centuries.

What’s it like to live somewhere so isolated? I asked, staring out at the limitless ocean, its hazy lines melding with the sky until it feels as if you’re floating in blue orbit.

I was 18 years old when I saw an escalator for the first time. Ever seen the movie Crocodile Dundee? I was exactly like that! Can you imagine a young boy from Sandy Bay driving through Cape Town at rush hour? I’d never seen traffic lights before. I’d never seen a KFC or a Nando’s - I bought a sweet-chilli twister and went straight back for a second, he giggled, as we kept an eye out for the red flash of a Madagascan fody, a tiny bird.

Now the airport gives me the freedom to travel, without taking too much time away from my business.

Isolation has crafted the island’s charm. The hurricane news cycles we’re exposed to daily don’t swirl here. Nothing is rushed. Clothes ordered online can take months to arrive and mobile phone coverage wasn’t rolled out until September 2015. Life isn’t dominated by screens. In the late afternoons, I would sit in the living room of Farm Lodge, owned by Stephen Biggs and Maureen Jonas, listening to the reassuring chime of the grandfather clock and the clackety-click of Katie the dog’s claws on the polished hardwood floors. Good Housekeeping magazines from 2004 lay spread on the table and I could hear the occasional bleat from their 36 sheep.

Following the introduction of weekly flights to the island, resident St Helenians, known locally as ‘Saints’, are preparing for a potential influx of tourists and investment as well as enjoying the possibilities brought by much faster transport links with South Africa.

Thirty-five after tonight’s dinner, winked Stephen, arriving with a G&T.

Everyone I passed in my rented Ford Focus would wave from behind their steering wheels. Slowly a cloak of calm unclenched my shoulders. Instead of hurtling along the winding lanes between appointments, I would pootle. Fifth gear doesn’t get much action on St Helena. Neither does fourth or third, for that matter. Signposts are merely a suggestion. If you get lost, who cares? The only witnesses are the cows.

From day one, Saints stopped on the streets of Jamestown to ask: How you, lovie? in their smooth lilt. By day two, people I’d never met were greeting me by name in that mellifluous accent.

We sound like a bunch of pigeons when we get together - we talk so fast, chortled Ivy Robinson, owner of Wellington House B&B, as we sat in her lounge. We go ‘up the eel’ - not up the hill! My dad always said I had to ‘talk tidy’ (in proper English), she said, shrugging off the suggestion.

Their nearest neighbour is Africa, 1931 kilometres away, but locals have nothing in common with that continent. Although St Helena is classed as a British Overseas Territory, the Saints aren’t particularly British either. Slaves (from ships redirected here after abolition in 1833), Chinese labourers and Boer War prisoners have all added to the ethnic mix.

Early on Thursday morning, the RMS St Helena steamed into harbour. Local ladies sat under a bench festooned with pink blossoms waiting to eye up the arrivals and soak up the gossip. The atmosphere at the airport is the same, said Stephen, who had turned up there to welcome his new guests.

There are lots of families showing up to greet each other. We’ve mentally carried over the new form of arrival and it’s the place to be seen now on a Saturday lunchtime.

But when the RMS St Helena sails for the last time from Cape Town on January 24, arriving in St Helena on February 18, bidding goodbye will be bittersweet for most islanders.

When she’s taken out of service, you won’t find me there [on the docks]. It’s too emotional. All our lives she’s been there, through good and bad - she helped us survive, said Ivy, her hands twisted nervously in her lap at the thought.

However, even bigger change is snaking its way beneath the ocean. A branch of the South Atlantic Express submarine fibre-optic cable - connecting South Africa to the US East Coast - will arrive in 2020, ending St Helena’s digital isolation. It will have a much bigger effect than the airport, said Helena Bennett, the island’s director of tourism.

Both developments will give younger Saints a shot at a future that doesn’t force them off the island in search of work. Indeed, the new four-star Mantis hotel in Main Street is already providing jobs.

It remains to be seen whether St Helena will be made or marred by the change. Back home, I found myself greeting every car I passed out of habit - but their windscreens were empty of waves.

FEATURES:

The World’s Most Remote…Distillery: Local distiller Paul Hickling puts prickly pear cacti to good use by harvesting them to produce Tungi, the local bush brandy. Saints have been making it since 1881 following a recipe brought by ivory traders from Africa. It won silver at the 2007 and 2009 Bartenders’ Challenge. Also on offer are a Jamestown gin made with Bermuda juniper berries and a rum based on spices from the Orient.

Whale sharks: Clusters of these gentle filter-feeding giants gather off the rocky shores from November to April, peaking in January and February. With visibility sometimes reaching 164ft, divers and snorkellers are guaranteed jaw-dropping photographs. Two operators on the island offer day trips.

Marathon: Held every November as part of the St Helena Festival of Running, the event raises money for the National Amateur Sports Association of St Helena and covers a 26-mile route from Francis Plain, weaving through the four districts of Sandy Bay, Longwood, St Paul’s and Levelwood.

See also: Fly hereVisitor Information

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Unusual Coverage! 

Published in ‘Le Petit Quotidien’, 25th October 2017{1}

You can download and read this article in a French children’s newspaper (1.6Mb) (but NB it is in French - you’ll figure it out!)

Our Comment: We think the cartoon strip pontificates that the weight of the aircraft landing sinks the island. So far we haven’t noticed any evidence of this, but we’ll keep you informed!

See also: Visitor InformationFly here

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Is world’s oldest tortoise GAY? 

By Fiona Parker, Daily Mail, 19th October 2017{1}

Daily Mail 20171019 Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena

Long-term relationships often lead to slowly uncovered secrets about partners, but Jonathan, the world’s oldest tortoise, was in for a shock after 26 years of enjoying a physical relationship with what keepers thought was a female. Elderly Frederica who lives on St Helena with Jonathan is actually Frederic.

Many people who have been in long-term relationships will tell you they slowly uncovered secrets about their partner over the years. But none of them are likely to have been as surprised as Jonathan, the world’s oldest tortoise, when he discovered something ground-breaking about his lover of 26 years.

Jonathan 1990 Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Not a 1900 photo

At 186 years old, Jonathan is the most senior resident of St Helena, a British Overseas Territory 1,200 miles off the coast of southern Africa. He arrived on St Helena in his thirties, as a gift to the governor. He also famously once posed with prisoners held captive on the island during the Boer war.

But late into his eighties, Jonathan became irritable and began knocking over benches and interrupting cricket games between residents on the lawn in front of the governor’s Georgian mansion.

Vets decided he needed a girlfriend and in 1991 he was given a mate. Romance blossomed with Frederica and it wasn’t long before the couple began enjoying regular mating sessions every Sunday morning, The Times reported. But despite their amorous antics, the pair never had any young. Now, almost three decades after the romance began, the reason has been revealed. When vets went to repair a lesion on the tortoise’s shell it was discovered that Frederica was actually a Frederic, putting a whole new spin on the relationship.

The island’s vet Catherine Man said the pair were creatures of habit and ate and slept at set times, living off a healthy diet of vegetable titbits and vitamins. But Jonathan now suffers from cataracts and his sense of smell is gone.

A bill was introduced last year to allow same-sex marriage on the island, which has a population of 4,255, but it was withdrawn after local outrage. Consultations are being held across the island to canvass opinion on whether a bill should be presented to the council before a court case that is set to challenge the current law on discrimination grounds.

Our Comment: This piece is amusing but, typically, full of errors. Frederik[a] could hardly be described as ‘elderly’ Jonathan arrived aged at least 50; the photo was pre-1886 and not with Boer prisoners; and only a few noisy people objected to the Marriage Bill - most Saints treat minorities equally. Still at least they didn’t manage to make yet another dig at our most useless airport

See also: Jonathan the tortoiseGet Married Here

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Napoleon, tourists, divers and flu: flight opens up remote St Helena 

By Ed Cropley, Reuters, 14th October 2017{1}

JAMESTOWN, St Helena (Reuters) - On St Helena, the remote volcanic outcrop in the South Atlantic where Napoleon breathed his last, big changes are afoot - well, big by St Helena standards.

Onlookers peer through windows shortly after the first ever commercial flight landed at St Helena airport near Jamestown October 14 2017 Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Onlookers peer through windows shortly after the first ever commercial flight landed at St Helena airport near Jamestown, October 14, 2017

In the heart of the capital, Jamestown (population 600), Constable Cowie is worried about the Christmas traffic; Craig, the dive-master, is checking his emails twice a day; and Lucille, the local taxi magnate, is introducing 24-hour shifts.

For the 4,500 residents of the island, separated from Africa by nearly 2,000 km (1,240 miles) of ocean, the arrival this past weekend of the first ever commercial flight was cause for celebration and marked another step closer to their inclusion in the 21st century.

Saints, as locals are known, only got mobile phones and the Internet 18 months ago, supplementing the five-day boat trip to Cape Town that represented their only connection with the outside world.

Now, there is a weekly flight from Johannesburg - via Namibia’s Windhoek - to the spectacular St Helena airport, perched precariously on the edge of a cliff. Locals are hoping for a steady trickle of aviation thrill-seekers, French history buffs and whale-watchers.

According to Craig Yon, owner of diving company Into the Blue, a group of Swedish divers who had been contemplating a trip to see whale sharks next year booked within minutes of reading online that the inaugural flight had landed safely.

Things are really picking up, he said. Before, I’d only check my emails once a day. Now I have to check them in the morning and the afternoon.

FLU IMPORTS?

There has been talk since the 1930s of an airport on St Helena, the involuntary abode of British colonial adversaries ranging from French emperor Napoleon to the Zulu King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and 6,000 Afrikaners taken prisoner in the Boer War.

The current site was selected a decade ago after the prime location on the notoriously craggy 16x8 km (10x5 mile) island was ruled out because it was home to an important colony of the endangered wire bird, a type of indigenous plover.

Even after its construction, a mammoth engineering feat involving 8 million cubic metres (yards) of rock and 285 million pounds ($378 million) of British taxpayer money, the airport nearly didn’t happen.

The first test flights were buffeted by vicious cross-winds, making it too dangerous for large aircraft to land and leading to an 18-month delay in its opening, during which time the British press dubbed it the world’s most useless airport.

Saturday’s landing, in a 100-seater Embraer, involved a pre-touch-down briefing about emergency go-around procedures but passed off smoothly, to the cheers and delight of those on board and hundreds of Saints crammed into the glass-fronted terminal.

I was quite happy to see the plane land safely because there have been a lot of problems around that, with the wind shear, said 22-year-old police officer Sophie Cowie, whose beat is managing the traffic on Main St., Jamestown’s one road.

While some in Britain may question the value for money of the airport - more than 60,000 pounds per Saint - for the islanders it has already proved its worth, enabling several emergency medical evacuations, including a newborn child.

However, one possible unintended consequence of more arrivals is the increased spread of disease to an island whose animal and human inhabitants have been protected from many of the world’s germs.

In the past week, the island’s schools have been almost empty due to a bout of flu. Said to have been brought in on the boat from Cape Town, it has laid low 80 percent of pupils.

Our Comment: Mobile ‘phones came 18 months ago; the Internet has been here for 20+ years; and there are two pricipal roads in Jamestown, not one!

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First commercial flight touches down at St Helena 

www.itv.com/news, 14th October 2017{1}

St Helena Airport was built with £285 million of funding from the Department for International Development Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
St Helena Airport was built with £285 million of funding from the Department for International Development

The long-awaited first scheduled airline service to the British overseas territory of St Helena has landed on the remote South Atlantic island.

True to the much-maligned airport’s chequered history, it was late.

The UK taxpayer-funded development saw 78 commercial airline passengers land just before 2pm on Saturday, approximately 45 minutes behind schedule, following their departure from South Africa.

St Helena Airport, built with £285 million of funding from the Department for International Development (Dfid), was due to open last year but the launch of commercial flights was delayed because of dangerous wind conditions.

Further trials were carried out in August and the airport was given the go-ahead to begin operations by South African aviation authorities.

Airlink’s Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft was due to land at 1.15pm local time (2.15pm BST) on Saturday but ended up touching down at 1.58pm (2.58pm BST).

Our Comment: We’d just like to point out that, yes - the plane was 45 minutes late, but that was due to a delay in Namibia. Nothing to do with our ‘much-maligned’ Airport!

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