Aviation in Sri Lanka began in the year 1911, Bleriot Monoplane was the first Aircraft to arrive in Sri Lanka.

The first flight in the skies of Sri Lanka was in the early morning of 7th Dec 1912, when two Frenchmen took off in a Bleriot aircraft, fly and land safely at the Race course grounds. The first International flight to Sri Lanka, a De Havilland Puss moth arrived from Bombay on 7th May 1931.

Ratmalana Airport was built in 1935, formal opening was in 1938. The modern international airport at Katunayake was built in the year 1967 and opened for International operations in the year 1968, which is now known as BIA (Bandaranayke International Airport).

Air Ceylon was established in the year 1947 as State owned flag carrier. The inaugural flight of Air Ceylon took place on 10th Dec 1947 from Ratmalana to Kankasenthurai with 16 passengers. Initial operations were limited to domestic routes with Douglas C-47. Fleet increased to three DC3; Sita Devi, Sunethra Devi and Viharamaha Devi.

In June 1947, a DC3 flew to London with few stops, the duration was 9 days.

First Captain to fly Air Ceylon was Peter Fernando and the first airhostess was Marvis Wijesekera who in fact was the Receptionist.

Air Ceylon in the 32 year history achieved the distinction of one of the world’s safest Airlines never recording a single passenger fatality.

Air Ceylon entered into partnership with ANA (Australian National Airways) in the year 1948 and began international services with DC4. Once this was over Air Ceylon into partnership with KLM in the year 1956, and later with BA in the year 1962. Last partnership was with UTA in the year 1972.

Type of aircraft operated by Air Ceylon: Lockheed Constellation / AVRO748 / Nord262 / Trident / Electra Propjet / Comet 4 / VC10 / DC8.

The birth of Air Lanka (which is now known as SriLankan) was on the 1st of September 1979 when Air Ceylon was wound up and the new Airline commenced operations with the assistance of Singapore Airlines. Today it has a modern fleet with a total of 21 Aircraft and operates to 96 destinations in 46 countries in partnership with several International Airlines and is a member of the “One World” alliance.

I had the privilege of being with Air Ceylon from 1969 to 1976 and I am ever grateful to my peers and my colleagues who introduced me to Civil Aviation and showed the path which lead to what I am today in the field of Aviation, I will cherish those memories to the rest of my life.

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