Seaborne was not the first commercial seaplane service to operate in the Virgin Islands. That distinction belongs to Antilles Air Boats, started by flying ace, renowned test pilot and author Charlie Blair in 1964.
Charlie Blair distinguished himself, among countless other achievements, by flying his scarlet-red P-51 Mustang, named Excalibur III, non-stop from New York to London in 1951. In May of that same year Charlie Blair made the first solo flight over the North Pole delivering personally through the cockpit window a letter addressed to Santa Claus from his son, Chris. Excalibur III is now on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
In 1968, Charlie Blair married the famous movie actress Maureen O’Hara and the couple lived on St. Croix.
By 1977, Antilles Air Boats, with a fleet of 23 amphibious aircraft including 19 Grumman Goose seaplanes, was making more than 100 flights a day, carrying some 250,000 passengers a year. Virgin Islanders often referred to Antilles Airboats as “The Streetcar Line of the Virgin Islands.”
Charlie Blair died in 1978 when the Grumman Goose he was piloting developed engine trouble and crashed between St. Croix and St. Thomas. (Excerpted from St. Thomas USVI)
Between 1967 and 1995 there was seaplane service between Cruz Bay and San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tortola. What is now used as the Virgin Islands National Park boat launch once housed the ramp, rustic offices and ground facilities for Antilles Airboats, a seaplane company that lost its planes to Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Afterwards, other companies took over, until they too lost their aircraft to a hurricane. This time it was Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. After that, the National Park announced that it would no longer lease the seaplane ramp and that wonderful scheduled seaplane service that at one time enabled visitors to change planes in San Juan and fly directly to Cruz Bay is no more. (Excerpted from St. John Off the Beaten Track)
St. John News
Murder in Coral Bay: A Tale of St. John by Wilson Roberts
Murder disrupts the calm of Coral Bay on St. John in the United States Virgin Islands. One of the world’s most unique communities, it is a place where many people are known by nicknames, their birth names often buried in life histories some-such as the woman known only as X-would rather forget. Robert Palmer, once a husband, father and physician from the hills of Western Massachusetts, staggered by the sudden breakup of his marriage, finds work as a bartender at Dante’s Landing, a restaurant and bar at the edge of the water. The Landing is a haven for many of Coral Bay’s inhabitants and Robert is quickly accepted as one of them. On his first day at the Landing he is befriended by Bethany Wren, whose rosy image veils a troubled and troubling past. The murder of a loud and abusive tourist outside Dante’s Landing is the first of three violent deaths. A corrupt police sergeant investigating the murders is as much a threat as the unknown murderer to the peace of Coral Bay, a laughing, singing, dancing, drinking, hard-working, sailing, swimming, fishing, eating and loving corner of St. John. Murder in Coral Bay is the story of how Robert, native St. Johnian Moonie, and Dante, owner of the Landing, find the murderer despite the ineptness and corruption of members of the Virgin Islands Police Department. Rich in descriptions of character and place, readers who know Coral Bay will find that Murder in Coral Bay will remind them of why they love this rare and lovely community. Readers who have yet to visit will find themselves drawn to discover it on their own. Wilson Roberts has published six previous novels with Wilder Publications. The Cold Dark Heart of the World; Incident on Tuckerman Court; The Serpent and the Hummingbird; Borrowed Trouble; Poet’s Seat, and All That Endures.
St. John Weather
Scattered showers and thunderstorms, then periods of showers and possibly a thunderstorm after noon. High near 78. East wind 10 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND THE ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS.
DAY ONE…TODAY AND TONIGHT
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL ONCE AGAIN DEVELOP AFTER MID-MORNING AND WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND OCCASIONAL LIGHTNING ACROSS THE ISLANDS AND ADJACENT WATERS.
DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…FRIDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY
AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE AREA WILL CONTINUE TO DEEPEN TODAY FORMING A CLOSED LOW NORTH OF OUR AREA BEGINNING TONIGHT. AS IT DOES SO…THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BECOME MORE HUMID AND UNSTABLE WITH SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS BECOMING MORE NUMEROUS AND INTENSE ESPECIALLY ON FRIDAY. MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL…GUSTY WINDS AND LIGHTNING CAN BE EXPECTED WITH THE STRONGEST STORMS. THIS WET AND ACTIVE WEATHER PATTERN IS FORECAST TO CONTINUE THROUGH AT LEAST THE WEEKEND.