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The Aircraft known to the Azores Islands  SI

The Aircraft known to the Azores Islands

In May 1939, the Azores strengthened the importance of its ocean geographic position with the arrival to the city of Horta, on the Island of Faial, of the first Boeing 314 Clipper four-engined seaplane of the North American airline Pan American Airways. This flight, only carrying mail, was a historic moment in the early days of the development of air transport between the USA and Europe. In July of that same year, the Clipper returned to Horta, this time with passengers. Regular air transport between North America and Europe was to become a routine. The Boeing 314 offered 36 seats in a luxurious and comfortable first class service. The return ticket between New York and Southampton with stopover at Horta and Lisbon was equivalent to a current value of 10,000 euros. The flight between New York and Horta took 13 hours.

From the Azores to Lisbon, where it landed at Cabo Ruivo, the journey took 7 hours at a cruising speed of 300 km/h. One year after having started up business, these Boeing 314 had completed 200 crossings and transported 2,600 passengers. At the end of the Second World War, the USA with the approval of the Portuguese government, built a large airport structure at Santa Maria, which was initially called Santa Maria Air Base and inaugurated in August 1945. In January 1946, the airline company Pan American started the stopover at Santa Maria, with Lockheed Constellation model aircraft, the first commercial pressurised commercial airliners, capable of connecting New York to the Azores in a little under 9 hours at a speed of 500 km/h. Santa Maria became an important stopover for transatlantic flights.

During this period, many Lockheed Constellation and Super-Constellation aircraft of the largest airline companies at the time passed through the Azores, in particular the American Trans World Airlines(TWA), the Dutch KLM and Air France. With the arrival of jet aircraft with higher flight autonomy, the refuelling stopovers at Santa Maria became unnecessary, the aircraft started to fly over the Atlantic Ocean without requiring intermediate refuelling. Santa Maria airport was also an important stimulus to the start-up of the commercial air transport activity of Sociedade Açoriana de Transportes Aéreos (SATA). Created formally in 1941 with the name of Sociedade Açoriana de Estudos Aéreos, it was only in 1947 that the regional company inaugurated the air services between São Miguel and Santa Maria with a twin-engine Beechcraft UC-45 which was given the name of «Açor».

After a fatal accident which involved this aircraft, the company acquired two aircraft De Havilland DH 104 Dove in that same year of 1947. In 1964, SATA responded to the need to expand and grow with the acquisition of twin-engine Douglas C-47 aircraft, the military version of the Douglas DC-3. In the Azores it became known as «Dakota», the English name for this type of aircraft. The C-47 aircraft offered more cargo and passenger transport capacity than the De Havilland Dove. In 1969, the increased demand for inter-island air transport and the creation of new airport structures inspired SATA to develop a new project of growth and modernisation. Modern twin-engined turboprop Hawker Siddeley HS-748 aircraft were acquired which flew from Ponta Delgada to Lajes in just over 30 minutes, showing a significant reduction of time and much more comfort.

They became known among the people of the Azores as «Avro». The operationalisation of the HS-748 was one of the most significant factors in the company’s modernisation. This philatelic issue pays tribute to these four airliners which are of enormous historical significance to National and Worldwide Aviation.

Technical Details

Issue Date: 04.09.2014
Designer: Francisco Galamba
Printer: Cartor
Process: Offset
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 40 x 30.6 mm
Values: €0.42, €0.50, €0.72, €0.80