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LOOKING BACK: RAF pilot stops at Jersey petrol station to refuel plane

LOOKING BACK: RAF pilot stops at Jersey petrol station to refuel plane

Tuesday 28 February 2023

LOOKING BACK: RAF pilot stops at Jersey petrol station to refuel plane

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Airplanes flying in and out of the island is an everyday occurrence... But fewer than 100 years ago, seeing an aircraft was something of a novelty, attracting fascinated crowds and leading one news reporter to muse whether Jersey might have a future in tourism...

In January 1931, an Australian Flying Officer of the Royal Air Force decided to fly to Jersey from England, landing on the beach at West Park and causing quite a stir as his plane was towed through St. Helier.

D V Ivan had decided to visit friends in Jersey. He had been to the island on a number of previous occasions, including the year before when recovering from an accident. However, rather than take the ferry, he plotted a less conventional route and made use of his aerial abilities.

The Airport was not built until 1937 so Ivan planned to land a plane at West Park, which at that time served as an impromptu landing strip. In preparation for this, he went to Heston Aerodrome, near London, and hired one of well-known aviator Winifred Spooner's 'de Havilland Gipsy Moths' to make the journey on Saturday, 31 January 1931.


Pictured: Pilot of the aircraft, Flying Officer D V Ivan. (JEP Archive)

Reports show that progress proved difficult as high winds led to bad flying conditions and this blew him off course. He landed at Barneville, two miles from Carteret, on the Normandy coast at 1.15pm, nearly three hours after leaving Heston.

Ivan decided to wait in France until the weather improved, later telling the Evening Post that he had enough petrol to bring him to Jersey on the Saturday but decided not to risk it as he had never flown to the island before and it would have been dangerous to land in the weather conditions.

He spent the night on the Continent before setting off the following morning in slightly calmer skies. Ivan reached Jersey without further incident, although it was reported that there was a high gusty wind when he came in to land. Despite this, he put the aeroplane down safely on the beach between First Tower and Millbrook.


Pictured: the aircraft being pushed down the Esplanade. (JEP Archive)

He was met by his friend, Mr J G Pontius of 2, Les Chalets, Queen's Road, who he was due to stay with. A car was called for and the aircraft had its wings folded back before being towed to Stevenson's Garage in Seaton Place, where it was stored for the night.

It proved something of a sensation as it was being pulled into St. Helier, with crowds gathering to witness the event.

The following day also presented the unusual sight of the aircraft being refuelled at the garage, once more with a large group of onlookers, before being hauled back to Millbrook for Ivan's return journey.

According to witnesses, Mr Ivan took off safely and then treated eye witnesses to an array of stunts, which were described as "hair raising." This included a "falling leaf" move, which involved putting the aeroplane into a controlled stall and using the rudder to hold the aircraft on a steady course, the movement of which looks like a leaf falling to the ground. He then set off back to England.


Pictured: The JEP article from Monday 2 February 1931. (JEP Archive)

In a breaking news item on Monday, 2 February the newspaper updated its readers to confirm that Flying Officer Ivan had arrived safely back at Heston Aerodome at 3.30pm that afternoon.

In its main article published that day, the Evening Post also pondered whether, provided Jersey had accessible and safe landing ground, flying to the island might not become quite popular and if Ivan might have started a new fashion...


This piece, put together by the Jersey Archive team, tells just one of the many stories hidden in its collection.

To uncover more like this, visit Jersey Archive in Clarence Road or search the JEP Photographic Archive on its website HERE.


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A Jersey wedding dress with a royal connection

Bigamy and fraud at the Southampton Hotel

Honeymoon heartache sparks "scandal"

Undercover police operation exposes swindlers

The importance of the Honorary Pigeon Officer

How strong words and kind hearts saved a destitute woman

Sea makes and breaks beachside aquarium

Fisherman in 1887 accidentally shot by militia

Workmen halted by garden hose and clameur de haro

Couple's snaps reveal pilot who shot down Jerseyman

Smuggling cheap liquor and tobacco at Portelet

Islanders flock to see ship run aground

Oh grape! Burglar caught out by stolen fruit

Rogue horse leads to neigh-er death experience

Destructor destroys Parish relationship with neighbours

Meet the man who had to snap every single person in Jersey

Accusations of election fixing in Trinity

'Mini Eiffel Tower' built to record Jersey's weather

Court for Salvation Army Band after hitting wrong note

‘Troglodyte Caves’ draw crowds to Five Oaks

Socialite gets death threat from ‘Jacques’ the Ripper

‘Disgraceful’ Christmas fracas at one of Jersey's most exclusive clubs

Fishermen rescue serial thief in stolen boat

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Posted by Keith Marsh on
Thank you for such an interesting series of articles.
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