The first regular commercial flight landed at St Helena on Saturday, opening the small British island in the South Atlantic to the world. Around 100 islanders came out to the airport to watch the historic landing of the Embraer 190 jet which came from Johannesburg. St. Helena, with just over 4,000 residents known as “Saints”, is best known as the rocky outcrop where Napoleon Bonaparte saw out his final days.
After five years of construction, controversy and embarrassing delays due to high winds, the airport built at a cost of 285 million pounds finally opened for business. The island used to be one of the world’s most inaccessible locations, reachable only by sea, a five day voyage from Cape Town aboard a Royal Mail vessel that chugs along at a speed of just 28kmph.
It was used as a place of exile for those who suffered defeat at the hands of the British, with Napoleon held there from 1815 until his death in 1821.