First Flight Covers from Barbados

As an island with a strong maritime history, much of Barbados’s philatelic history is based on the transfer of letters by ship. Of course today all the mail goes by air and there are regular flights from the island to not only neighbouring islands but to major international hubs.

Many of these routes started in fairly recent times with the first flight into what was then known as Seawell Airport, commencing in October 1938 when a mail plane from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Trinidad landed safely. Today Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) serves as an international airport and mail come into and out of it daily.

As mail services developed then inevitably there were first flight covers and this section covers any that happen to turn up in the collection.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be gifted some old literature about Barbados, and buried within the bundle of material were two excellent articles on First Flights. One of them, published in 1958 in The Aero Field Magazine, contained within it a table of all the first flights from 1929 to 1957. This superb piece of work by N.C. Baldwin is not currently, to the best of my knowledge, available online, so I am reproducing the table here in a slightly different format to make it easier to use. You can expand the number of rows you see by clicking on the selector at the of the table and there are 23 separate entries to see. Interestingly, two of the stated dates of these flights appear different to the cancels on the covers. The first flight from Barbados to Curacao says 18th December but all covers I have seen are dated 19th December. Similarly, the TCA first flight to Toronto in 1949 is listed as 3rd December but the cancels are 2nd December.

Whilst I’d like to be able to show all of these covers, to date I have some from this table and several later first flights. Hopefully, this will act as a standing resource for anyone interested in First Flight Covers from Barbados.

19291st AprilBridgetown - Port of Spain, TrinidadLancaster
19308th AprilBridgetown- St Lucia, Antigua, St Thomas & othersNYRBA
193818th OctoberBridgetown - Trinidad - CuracaoK.L.M.Experimental Flight - all covers appear to have 19th October cancels
19396th FebruaryBridgetown - Trinidad & onwardsK.L.M.Start of regular service
19396th MarchBridgetown - round BarbadosSouvenir mail flown round the island by Flight Lieut. J.S. Johnson
1939June 15thNew York - Azores - Lisbon - MarseillesP.A.A. TransatlanticFirst acceptance of mail for transatlantic transit
19394th SeptemberBridgetown - Trinidad - ParamariboK.L.M.Extension of existing service
194027th NovemberBridgetown - TrinidadB.W.I.A.
194322nd MarchBridgetown - St. Georges, GrenadaB.W.I.A.
194325th MarchBridgetown - St. John's, Antigua & St KittsB.W.I.A.
194328th MarchBridgetown - Castris, St. LuciaB.W.I.A.
194316th MayBridgetown - Kingstown, St. VincentB.W.I.A.
19441st NovemberCivilian airletter service to U.K. (1/-), Empire Countries beyond U.K. (1/6), North American area and Caribbean (6d)
194416th DecemberBridgetown - Jamaica via St. KittsB.W.I.A.
19451st NovemberBridgetown - Georgetown, British GuianaB.W.I.A.
19483rd MayBridgetown - La Guaira, Venezuela
19493rd DecemberBridgetown - Trinidad - Bermuda - TorontoT.C.A.Covers are dated 2nd December, even though the flight is listed as 3rd December
195017th MayBridgetown - Pointe a Pitre, GuadeloupeB.W.I.A.
19511st JanuaryB.W.I.A.

Increase in mail fees 2½d to 6d
U.K. increased from 1/3 to 1/6 and Australasia from 3/- to 3/3
195310th OctoberBridgetown - New York & LondonB.O.A.C.
195316th DecemberBridgetown - San Juan, Puerto RicoB.W.I.A.First Viscount service
19563rd JanuaryBridgetown - Martinique with connections to Guadeloupe, Sainte Martin and Porto RicoAir France
195714th MayBridgetown - New YorkP.A.A.