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The Very First Plane Landing in San Pedro

By Angel Nuñez

In my book, Twenty Five Years Ago, I have a vivid narration of the very first landing of an airplane on Ambergis Caye.  I can easily do so because I was there, or should I say I was here. Incidentally, the very first plane did not touch ground or land on Ambergis Caye, because it was actually a seaplane. Here is a brief account more or less of how it all happened.

It was a sunny and quiet Friday morning in the village of San Pedro. Fishermen were out at sea, children were at school right on the beach, and most of the women were wearing red eyes from the smoke in their little kitchens and the fire hearths and trying to finish with the food for midday lunch.  In San Pedro the main meal is the midday lunch and this could be anything from several whole fried fish, a pot-full of red beans, either a pot-full of white rice or a stockpile or corn tortillas. Of course there was some ‘curtido de chile’ or a jar of onions and hot peppers. But wait a minute! I am supposed to be talking about airplanes.

The serenity of the day was interrupted with this loud sound, that of a loud engine. When villagers looked up, they surprisingly and perhaps with some fear discovered that it was a plane.  It circled around the village once and headed towards the reef. By that time the school children were out of their classes and all gleefully shouting at the beach. The teachers could not contain their emotions and also joined the students at the beach. By the time the airplane approached the village over the sea from the southerly direction, most of the women had abandoned their kitchens ignoring the fires and were rushing towards the beach where apparently this flying monster was attempting to land. One elderly man who was sitting in the outdoor latrine, rushed out with his pants down to his knees either with excitement of the eventful moment or due to fear of whatever was happening. Fortunately, nobody noticed. How could anyone notice! Fishermen who were still out at sea noticed the commotion and started paddling their dories at full speed trying desperately not to miss out on the action or perhaps frantic of what could happen to their women and children.  

The Very First Plane Landing in San Pedro

In a matter of a minute or two, the plane had touched water and was moving forward at great speed, splashing water on both sides as never seen before. Soon it slowed almost to a standstill right in front of the school which was close to the main pier. However it did not go towards the pier like most boats did but headed towards a shallow area at the beach. Soon the two boats on which the plane was floating hit the shallow grass and came to a complete halt. Everyone’s mouth was wide open and all eyes were riveted onto the plane. Smaller kids were clinging from their mother’s loose dresses almost to the point of ripping them. The school children were extremely excited and cheering at being so close to a real airplane. The little door at the front to the left was opened and out stepped this handsome young American Pilot waving is hand at the crowd, actually the entire village. He stepped down in the shallow water which reached half way up his calves. The village chairman greeted the gringo pilot and they along with some other men walked towards Daddy’s Club at the foot of the main pier where supposedly they had a meeting. It was John Greif II who was supposedly looking for a place in the Tropics which he could call home and where he could build a hotel.

Later that afternoon he stepped inside his seaplane once more, cranked up the engine and his plane moved far out down south.  Then it sped in a northerly direction and when almost in front of the waving crowd, it lifted and John had his plane tilting its wings from side to side as if saying ‘adios’.  There was a sense of sadness even nostalgia as the plane flew away into the distance and finally disappeared in the beautiful blue sky.  San Pedro had witnessed with great enthusiasm the landing of the very first plane- an event that would later become an everyday common occurrence. This happened many years ago in San Pedro.

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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