1983 200th Anniversary of Manned Flight

Commemorating the anniversary of the Montgolfiers 1783-1983

Date: 13th October 1983
Stamps: 12c First Flight over Bermuda – Curtis Jenny 1919, 30c First completed flight between U.S. & Bermuda – Stinson ‘Pilot Radio’ 1930, 40c First Scheduled Passenger Flight ‘Cavalier’ Short Empire Flying Boat 1937 featuring Bermuda Airport Imperial Airways and $1 ‘USS Los Angeles’ moored to the ‘USS Patoka’ 1925

1983 200th Anniversary of Manned Flight FDC

Type: Official First Day Cover
Cachet: Bermuda 200th Anniversary of Manned Flight. Official First Day Cover 13th October 1983

1983 200th Anniversary of Manned Flight reverse FDC


The world would never be quite the same after November 21st, 1783, the day that Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes made man’s first assent in a Montgolfier hot-air balloon over Paris. The dream of flying had suddenly become a reality. Following that historic day 200 years ago, flying has progressed from balloons, manned gliders and airships, to the Wright brothers’ first heavier-than-air flight of 1903, and finally to the point where today millions of people fly from city to city and from continent to continent each day.

Bermuda has played a part in these developments. Following the first flight above the island in 1919. Bermuda was the destination of both airships and aeroplanes during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, until finally, in 1937, the island saw the introduction of the first regular air service to the island. During World War II Bermuda played a vital role in transatlantic aviation, and following the construction of the airport during that war, the island’s airtraffic has increased dramatically, making possible the economic progress of the past decades.

Technical Details

Designer: A.D.Theobald
Printer: Walsall Security Printers Ltd
Printing Process: Lithography
N0. of stamps per sheet: 50 (2 x 25)
Stamp size: 28.45 x 42.58mm
Values: 12c, 30c, 40c, $1
Paper: CA Spiral Watermarked
Release Date: 13 October 1983

An Official First Day Cover is available.

12c  – First Flight Over Bermuda – Curtiss ‘Jenny’ 1919

Bermuda’s first flight came about by accident. It was during May of 1919 that an American astronomical expedition, en route to the South Atlantic to observe a solar eclipse, called at Bermuda for engine repairs to the S.S. ‘Elinor’. When the head of the expedition met Bermuda’s then-Governor, General Sir James Willcocks, the Governor mentioned his ambition to be the first to take a birds-eye view of Bermuda – after all, his official title designated him ‘Governor of and over the Somers Isles’. It so happened that a seaplane formed part of the expedition’s equipment and it was quickly decided to make the Governor’s wish come true. On May 22nd, 1919, the Curtiss N-9H ‘Jenny’ was lowered from the S.S. ‘Elinor’ and amidst great excitement General Willcocks then made history. With Ensign G.L. Richard at the controls. the seaplane headed from Hamilton Harbour to Spanish Point and H.M. Dockyard. and, after circling Ireland Island, returned to Hamilton Harbour after a 20-minute flight. making General Willcocks the first Governor of Bermuda to see his island from above.

30c – First Completed Flight Between V.S. & Bermuda – Stinson ‘Pilot Radio’ 1930

The first flight to Bermuda by aeroplane on April 1st, 1930, almost ended in tragedy. Although Louis Yancey, William Alexander, Zeh Bouck and their Stinson seaplane called ‘Pilot Radio’ left New York in the morning, they did not find Bermuda by nightfall. After landing their plane about 9o miles off Bermuda, they resumed their flight the following morning, only to run out of fuel ahout eight miles off the island. This time a fishing boat came to the rescue and with a can of its fuel they completed the flight into Hamilton Harbour, The experience seems to have been too much for the three aviators as they loaded their plane onto a cruise ship for the return journey to New York.

40c – First Scheduled Passenger Flight – Short Empire Flying Boat ‘Cavalier’ 1937

In 1935 the Bermuda Government entered an agreement with Imperial Airways for the construction and operation of Bermuda’s first airport at Darrell’s Island. Following the completion of the hanger during 1936, the 23-ton Short Empire flying boat ‘Cavalier’ was shipped to Bermuda and assembled at Darrell’s Island. After successful flight tests in early 1937, the first scheduled passenger flight took place on June 16th, 1937, the 26-passenger ‘Cavalier’ making the flight to Port Washington in 5 hours and 36 minutes. On the return flight on June 18th, the ‘Cavalier’ was joined by Pan-American Airways ‘Bermuda Clipper’ which continued to operate the route jointly with Imperial Airways until January 21st, 1939. On that day the ‘Cavalier’, on her 290th flight in the New York-Bermuda service, was lost about three hours after leaving Port Washington.

$ I – USS ‘Los Angeles’ Moored To The VSS ‘Patoka’ 1925

The first flight to Bermuda by an airship was made by the U.S. Navy’s ZR-3 ‘Los Angeles’ on February 21 st, 1925. After a successful flight from Lakehurst, New Jersey, it was intended to moor the 600-feet-long airship to the USS ‘Patoka’. Unfortunately this proved impossible due to bad weather conditions, and, after dropping three mailbags near the Postmaster’s residence, the airship returned to Lakehurst. Weather conditions were more favourable when the ‘Los Angeles’ returned to Bermuda two months later. on April 21st, 1925. She was successfully moored to the USS ‘Patoka’, at anchor off Shelly Bay on Bermuda’s north shore. Apart from 50 passengers the ‘Los Angeles’ again brought a consignment of airmail to the island, and on this occasion also took on board three mailbags containing the first airmail from Bermuda.

1983 200th Anniversary of Manned Flight insert FDC 1983 200th Anniversary of Manned Flight insert reverse FDC

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