Letters to the Editor

Remembering the significance of Jenny

  • Historic moment: the Burgess-built Curtiss N-9H Jenny, the first aircraft to fly in Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

Dear Sir,

In a few months it will be the 100th anniversary of aviation in Bermuda. Many months ago, I asked the Bermuda Stamp Committee to commemorate the event with some sort of postal memorabilia/stamp but they said that the RAF 100th Anniversary was more important. I hope The Royal Gazette will use its pages to mention this historic event.

The aviation story in Bermuda began when a US Navy two-seater Burgess-built Curtiss N-9H Jenny floatplane (#A2646) arrived in Bermuda on board the SS (formerly USS) Elinor.

The Elinor was holed up at Murray’s Anchorage near Bermuda’s original capital, the Town of St George, having arrived unplanned on May 19, 1919 after suffering engine trouble, mishaps and poor weather.

Her mission was to take an expedition, led by Professor David Todd, from New York to Montevideo to observe an eclipse of the sun. Having noted the dismantled aircraft on board Elinor, Governor-General Sir James Willcocks, who had connections with Todd’s college at Amherst, persuaded the crew to fly him over the islands and give Bermudians their first sight of an aircraft.

So it was that on the morning of Thursday, May 22, 1919, every balcony and vantage point along the Hamilton waterfront was crammed with excited spectators waiting for the planned 10am flight.

The aircraft was reassembled but, while she was being lowered into the water at St George’s, a wing was damaged when a winch gave way. Repairs were effected and at 12.45pm, the Jenny, flown by Ensigns G.L. Richard and W.H. Cushing made the first flight in Bermuda and landed safely in Hamilton Harbour.


Horsham, West Sussex