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[This Day in History – January 5]

By BMHS on January 5, 2016 in Hot Topics
[This Day in History – January 5]

Arrival of Small World Gondola

On January 5, 1959 Barbadian fisherman DaCosta Brathwaite and his son Chesterfield landed a strange catch at Crane Beach, St. Phillip.

On his usual trip to the fishing banks, Brathwaite, the skipper of the power boat “New Providence,” spotted a small object afloat. Further investigation revealed the object to be the gondola of the Small World Balloon with its four-member crew aboard. Brathwaite agreed to tow the gondola through the dangerous reef to Crane beach for $50, not forgetting to stop along the way to catch dolphin. He later excitedly declared to onlookers “I saved their lives.”

As news of the landing spread, hundreds of Barbadians, including Lady Arundell, wife of the Governor converged on the scene to welcome the adventurers. According to the Barbados Advocate of January 6, 1959, the first lady “discarded shoes and waded knee deep in the surf and skipped lively about the beach taking shots of the crew and gondola and the large crowd that greeted them.”

The Small World’s crew consisting of Arnold “Bushy” Eiloart, the leader, his son Timothy, the wireless operator and Colin and Rosemary Mudie left the Canary Islands on December 12, 1958 on a quest to be the first team to cross the Atlantic in a balloon using only the prevailing winds for power. The trip, which was expected to last between 8-21 days, the likeliest being 12, was to end in the Caribbean.

Shortly after their take off on the Daily Mail sponsored expedition, radio contact with the world was lost. As they travelled on in radio silence, the world calculated and predicted where they would make landfall. One such prediction that they had ended up in the jungle of Venezuela led to an extensive air-sea rescue operation directed from Trinidad. In Barbados, Diviner Laurie H. Branch of Claybury Plantation predicted that the “Small World” would land somewhere between Seawell and the Crane. Unfortunately the landing at the Crane was not as they had hoped – soaring in the air to a triumphant landing.

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