THE FIRST MACHINES TO ARRIVE at Jersey Airport, opened in March 1937, were four-engined D.H.86 Express Air Liners belonging to Jersey Airways, Ltd. Jersey Airways is one of the few unsubsidized air companies operating four-engined aircraft exclusively.
THE oldest constituent members of the British Empire — the Channel Islands — are connected with England by the newest form of transport. The Channel Islands belonged to the Duke of Normandy before he became William the Conqueror and can therefore claim historical precedence over every other part of the British possessions.
Until the coming of commercial air transport the Channel Islands, which are much nearer the French than the English coast, were somewhat difficult of access. Despite an excellent service of railway steamers from Southampton and Weymouth, many people dread the voyage across the English Channel to Guernsey and Jersey, as the difficult currents in the neighbourhood of the islands often make the conditions unpleasant. Now bad sailors can escape the terrors of a rough crossing and — thanks to the enterprise of Jersey Airways Limited — travel over instead of on the capricious sea. Moreover, hurried travellers can save a great deal of time. The train and boat journey from London to Jersey takes eleven or twelve hours; the air journey, including road connexions at either end, takes three hours.
Jersey Airways began to operate in December 1933. Today no fewer than five regular services are operated by the company in the summer months and two during the winter season. The two services that operate all the year round are London—Jersey and Southampton—Jersey. The other three are Portsmouth—Jersey, Exeter—Jersey and Shoreham—Jersey. In addition, there is an air route between Jersey and the island of Alderney. There is, at the time of writing, no air service between Jersey and Guernsey or Sark, the other two important islands in the group, but, since August 1938, Jersey has been connected by air with Dinard, in Brittany.
The London—Jersey service runs daily in the winter months and twice daily in summer. Passengers leave Victoria Station, London, an hour before the aeroplane is due to take off from Heston Airport. The air journey of 181 miles takes ninety minutes if non-stop and 100 minutes if a stop is made at Portsmouth Airport (see below). The road journey from the airport of St. Peter’s, Jersey, to the island capital of St. Helier takes half an hour; the distance is five miles. As the distance from Victoria to Heston is twelve miles, the road connexions at either end require a total time of ninety minutes for a total road distance of seventeen miles. This time of ninety minutes is the same as that taken by the aeroplane to cover the 181 miles between the airports without a stop. The time allotted to the road journeys, however, includes the time occupied by the formalities of transfer to and from the aircraft.
The air journey was made non-stop during the winter of 1937-38 and on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays in the summer of 1938. On other days the Portsmouth call was made. Passengers are advised to book well in advance in the summer season, although the company operates additional services when required. In the height of summer many additional aircraft are needed to cope with the traffic.
Between Southampton and Jersey there is a daily service all the year round. In winter a second service operates daily except on Sundays. In summer there are two daily services, another running daily except on Sundays, another running on Saturdays and Sundays only and a fifth on Saturdays only. As with all Jersey Airways schedules, there are the same facilities in either direction.
The three-miles’ road journey from Southampton Central Station to Southampton Airport takes little time, but from thirty-five to forty-five minutes are allowed for the air connexion to be made. The air journey from Southampton Airport to Jersey Airport takes sixty-five minutes; the distance is 129 miles.
At Southampton air connexions may be made on weekdays in summer with Railway Air Services aeroplanes flying between Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Shoreham, and on Sundays with the same company’s aeroplanes flying between Cardiff, Bristol and Ryde, Isle of Wight. There is also a daily service in summer between Southampton and Ryde.
Another popular Jersey Airways service operating during the summer only is that between Portsmouth and Jersey. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays there are two services in either direction by the through Heston—Jersey aeroplanes, which stop at Portsmouth on those days. On the other days of the week there are similar services, but by other aircraft and at different times. Half an hour is allowed for the four-miles’ road journey between Portsmouth Station and Portsmouth Airport. The air journey of 120 miles between Portsmouth and Jersey Airports takes an hour.
A summer week-end service operates on Saturdays between Exeter and Jersey. A coach leaves St. David’s Station forty-five minutes and Central Station forty minutes before the aeroplane is due to leave from Exeter Municipal Airport at Clyst Moniton. The air journey of 120 miles takes an hour.
A similar summer week-end service is in operation between Shoreham Airport and Jersey. The air journey of 147 miles takes seventy-five minutes. The Southern Railway has opened a station serving Shoreham Airport on the line between Brighton and Worthing (Sussex). Shoreham Airport Station is seven miles from Brighton, and the railway journey takes about a quarter of an hour. Passengers for Jersey are advised to leave Brighton three-quarters of an hour before the advertised departure time of the aircraft.
Those who know how rough the sea can be near the island of Alderney will be glad to know that an aeroplane flies on three days a week (Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays) between Jersey Airport and Alderney Airport. The air trip takes only twenty minutes.
The service between Jersey and Dinard is operated jointly by Jersey Airways and Air France on four days of the week in either direction. Express Air Liners of Jersey Airways fly on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Air France Golden Clippers on Saturdays and Mondays. The air journey of 32 miles between Jersey Airport and Dinard Aerodrome takes about twenty minutes.
The aircraft used on the routes of Jersey Airways consists of D.H.86 Express Air Liners. This type of machine is a biplane with four Gipsy Six engines, giving a total of 800 horse-power. The wing span is 64 ft. 6 in., the length 46 ft. 1¼ in. and the height 13 feet. The maximum speed at 1,000 feet is 170 miles an hour and the cruising speed is 140-145 miles an hour. These aircraft resemble in many ways the D.H.86B machines, but the tail unit — a monoplane type with wire bracing — is different.
Jersey Airways claims to be one of the few unsubsidized air-lines operating four-engined aircraft exclusively. The liners belonging to the company seat fourteen passengers, in addition to the captain and first officer. These aircraft can, if necessary, fly fully loaded on any two of their engines.
Jersey Airport was opened in March 1937. It has an area of 85 acres and was built at a cost of £148,000. Before this airport was built the air liners landed on and took off from the beach.
MANY ADDITIONAL AIRCRAFT are put into service to cope with the demands of heavy seasonal traffic. In this photograph five biplanes, are seen in the air simultaneously on the outskirts of St. Helier. Aircraft fly on regular schedules between Jersey Airport and Portsmouth, Southampton, Shoreham, Exeter and Heston, for London. There are also short air routes connecting Jersey with Alderney and with Dinard, on the coast of Brittany.