October 14 will be remembered as a historic day in the remote island of St. Helena. After several false starts and technical delays, the first commercial flight to British territory finally landed on time.
St. Helena sits in the south Atlantic Ocean, 1,200 miles from the nearest mainland. Before South African Airlines began the weekly service from Johannesburg and Cape Town, the only way to reach St. Helena was to take a five-day boat journey from Cape Town. The flight, which has a refueling stop in Windhoek International Airport in Namibia, has shortened the odyssey to the pristine paradise to six hours.
The first group of travelers were personally greeted by the island’s governor Lisa Phillips. “St. Helena, where you are a long way from a long way,” Phillips tweeted.
The commercial flight is expected to bolster the livelihood of St. Helena’s 4,000 residents. The volcanic island’s economy relies heavily on tourism, among its draws is a 185-year old tortoise named Jonathan and a heart shaped water falls. History buffs will also know of St. Helena as the place where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled after his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo. He died there in 1821, whiling away his last days drinking gallons of a desert wine produced by the South African producer Klein Constantia.