June 15, 1947: SATA’s first commercial flight

This June, we are celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the official beginning of SATA’s operational and commercial activities, signalled by its first commercial flight on June 15, 1947, between São Miguel and Santa Maria islands, aboard a Beechcraft UC-45B Expeditor aircraft, piloted by Captain Marciano Bonucci Veiga, the Company’s captain-aviator, first pilot and technical director.

The aircraft arrived at São Miguel on May 21, 1947, aboard the ship Lima, accompanied by its respective technical navigating and maintenance crew, having been unloaded at the port of Ponta Delgada, packed in boxes and transported to Santana Aerodrome, in Rabo de Peixe. It had the serial number 43-35596, was built in 1943, with the registration number CS-TAA and registration certificate no. 107, dated May 13, 1947; it was a light, twin engine, low-winged aircraft, suitable for a commercial passenger transport service (6 to 7 passengers).

The official opening ceremony was held on Santana airfield at 4:00 pm on June 15. The aircraft parking space at Santana Aerodrome was decorated for the occasion. More than three hundred guests were present, including members of the government, regional politicians, civil and military authorities, representatives of international airlines with offices in the Azores, and representatives of national and local media.

The Beechcraft was officially blessed by Reverend José Gomes, received the name of “Açor”, and the grandchild of Dr. Augusto Arruda, then CEO of the Company and one of its founders, Ana Isabel, was the godmother.

Air travel in the archipelago thus became a reality: the islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria became a 30-minute flight away, an alternative to the (until then unbeatable) six-hour sea journey which separated Ponta Delgada and Vila do Porto. With the start of commercial flights between the archipelago’s only airports at the time (Santa Maria, São Miguel and Terceira), the fundamental and decisive step was taken to transform SATA into a changing tool at the service of the Azores.

Text: Jorge Câmara

Photos: Alexandre Sousa, família do Comte. Marciano Veiga e Arquivo SATA