Singapore, which has become an international air hub in the meantime, celebrates in March 2011 the hundredth anniversary of its aeronautical history.
When there had already been planes flying for a few years in the skies above Saigon or Bangkok, the first motorized flight in Singapore took place only in 1911.
Coincidentally, the pilot was a Belgian citizen, Mr. Joseph Christiaens.
Christiaens, who is mentioned on the website of the Brussels Air Museum as one of the pioneers of Belgian aviation, had learnt how to fly only one year before he was already travelling around the East Indies with two British Boxkite planes in his luggage.
His first flight in Singapore is recorded on 16 March 1911, above the old race course located at Serangoon.
Only three days after the inaugural flight of Christiaens in Singapore, another Belgian embarked on the first flight in Hong Kong. Charles Van den Born had already been overtaken by Christiaens in obtaining his pilot licence (his was the 7th, while Christiaens was the 6th).
Just a few months later, Christiaens, who apparently was commissioned by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, went to South Africa to demonstrate and sell his planes.
The fateful pilot, who brings back to memory the “Mister Pump” in the adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko (by Hergé, the father of Tintin), died at full speed on 25 February 1919 in an accident with a car that he was experimenting with.
These anniversaries are the reason behind numerous celebrations in both Singapore and Hong Kong. In Singapore, the Singapore Philatelic Museum organizes a beautiful exhibition about the subject from 16 March to 30 September and released a series of stamps for the occasion.
For more information: www.spm.org.sg/