“I now know more about wind shear than most other people I know,” said Lisa Phillips.
Lisa the Governor of St Helena had no idea when she took over the role that she would become an expert not only in airport operations meteorology or also in hotel development too.
On the day she arrived on St Helena she stepped off the Royal Mail ship the RMS St Helena ship thinking that she would be welcoming the first flight on the next day.
However all that changed in the next 24 hours with the news that the newly completed St Helena Airport opening operation was not to go ahead due to the discovery that a severe ‘wind shear’ problem had been identified. The authorities could not allow passenger flights to start because of aircraft safety at the £285m hill top development.
Then followed a long period of metrological testing and assessment of the winds on the approaches to the airport, both directly over the sea and over the land in the opposite direction.
ST HELENA AIRPORT HAS BEEN AN EDUCATION
Lisa said, “During that time I certainly became and have continued to become quite an expert in the subject of wind shear problems around airports”.
“The very next day after my arrival on the island the news came through that the airport could not open so that was a real baptism of fire or the airport equivalent of one”.
After working previously in Kenya she became aware of the position of Governor for the islands of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunhu and applied for the job and in doing so became the very first female in that position.
Lisa having arrived in London this week from the new and now functioning island airport complete with a team to promote tourism to the world at the huge travel exhibition at Excel, the World Travel Market.
This new connection is expected to bring a huge boost to St Helena as before the only way to access the island was by the specially designed passenger and cargo ship which sailed from in the past Bristol, Cardiff and later Portland finally then and most recently from Cape Town.
Along with her newly acquired knowledge in airport safety concerns she has also been looking into the construction of a brand new boutique style hotel on the main street of the island’s capital of Jamestown.
“With easier access for tourism having suitable accommodation for these new visitors was also a requirement of the island. Also, another area where I found myself this time learning about hotels, their design and requirements. I never realised when I took on the role of Governor that my skills would be expanded in such ways”, said Lisa.
The new hotel and an existing one nearby has meant that the island has made a good start in delivering a range of different classes of accommodations that will serve its new airborne visitors.
The flights to St Helena Airport also offer the islanders another potential income stream and the chance to export its freshly caught tuna and other seafood harvested from the deep of the South Atlantic ocean that surrounds the island that is over a thousand miles from the next land fall in any direction.
“There is not huge cargo hold availability on the new plane, however what there is does give the islanders a chance to tap into new income streams by getting their top quality catches into the markets within hours, rather than days or even weeks as it has been in the past”, said Lisa.
Speaking with tour operator at the exhibition from the island Craig Yon, was of the opinion that growth in tourism would be gradual. He said “ I do not think we will be swamped with tourists there will be an initial demand but I think the growth will be steady”.
“We have an island with unique flora, great history and the seas are stunning for sport fishing, diving and for chance to encounters with giant creatures like groups of mature whale sharks that are perfectly harmless to humans as they are filter feeders and that are often to be found just offshore”, added Craig.
The Island of St Helena made famous as Napoleon’s prison home and where he finally died but the island has a huge chance to make a new mark on the world as one of the most remote places to visit on any tourism map!