Flying boats visit Sandakan
Published on: Saturday, November 21, 2020
By: British North Borneo Herald
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The Spirit of Borneo Sikorsky aircraft of world famous Hollywood wildlife documentary pioneers Martin and Osa Johnson flying over the Kinabatangan in 1935.
17th March 1938

The visit to Sandakan of two large flying boats of the type which have been extensively used since their introduction as reconnaissance craft; and particularly so during the recent large scale of land - sea  and air manoueuvres in Singapore, provided considerable interest to dwellers in Sandakan during the weekend of March 5th-7th.

Of the personnel of the flight Squadron Leader A.W Bates, commander of one of the flying boats and Squadron Leader R. B Councell, commander of the other machine, had both been in command of aircraft participating in the ceremony of the opening of the new King George VI Gracing Dock at Singapore, where planes flown by Squardon Leader Bates and Squardon Leader Councell were numbered with the aerial escort which attended Sir Shenton Thomas in his yacht Sea Belle II, (whose visit to Sandakan in 1935 will be generally recalled) to the entrance of the Gracing Dock.

A distinguished passenger on the second flying boat on this trip to various centres in British Borneo was Group Captain G.R Cox, O.B.E.A.F.C, the flying officer commanding the Royal Air Force camp at Seletar, S.S.

The two planes arrived in Sandakan shortly before midday on Saturday, March 5th, having flown from Kudat in one hour and five minutes, and the Commanders of both planes made exquisite landings on the calm waters of the Sandakan Bay, which were a joy to behold.

The reclamation was thronged with spectators in the twinkling of an eye, to watch the planes taxi slowly up to their moorings close in the shore. The Commissioner of Customs and the District Officer went out in the Government Launch Gomantong to the moorings to welcome the planes, and returned shortly afterwards bringing ashore the officers and members of the crew.

In the evening before dinner a dance was held in the Sandakan club from 6.30 to 9pm. This was deservedly popular and was well attended, our visitors turning up in force.

On Monday morning the two planes left again for Kudat at 9.30am. They made a magnificent sight as they roared over the water at 60 - 70 m.p.h before taking off. We regretted the shortness of their visit, and hope that we may be fortunate enough to welcome them again in the near future.


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