Harold GattyOur celebration for the revival of Fiji Airways is a great event in our country’s history.
But we are forgetting something — the man who founded the airline. There has been no mention of him.
In his time he was famous. The first man to fly around the world, with the American Wiley Post, in the single-engine Lockheed Vega in 1931. Eight days around the world. He set other flying records, across the U.S.A., and the first effort (unsuccessful) to fly across the Pacific, from Japan to Seattle, with Harold Bromley, a Canadian.
In the late ‘thirties, he was instrumental in selecting Nadi as Fiji’s international airport (built largely by NZ Air Force). He established the first commercial overseas flights to both New Zealand and Australia, with the Boeing 42 ton Clipper flying boats of Pan American Airways. They flew into Auckland and Sydney. And he opened virtually all the airport facilities throughout the South Pacific, Samoa, Guam, Midway, Wake Island, I remember. As a youngster, I often travelled with him.
Then he established Fiji Airways, based out of Nausori. I remember it well, more than sixty years ago.
It was not just aviation. It was a major step in his vision for tourism, as a major industry of Fiji. The notion of the Blue Lagoon cruises was his idea, and he had me sail about to find islands and villages for tourists to visit. He delegated that business to a Kiwi, known as Withers, since he was busy with Fiji Airways.
He also contributed some notions of diversification of Fiji agriculture, namely vanilla, and spices, an effort he charged me with fulfilling. That is another vision that is worthy of recognition.
When he died, Government buildings flew their flags at half-mast, an unusual gesture for the death of a private person. Australia, his country of origin, built a monument for him in Campbelltown, Tasmania, where he was born. And the main road to the Hobart airport bears his name. Australia commemorated him with  postage stamp. But he is buried in Suva, in Fiji that has forgotten him. Let us remember — Harold Gatty. He was a great pioneer, one who helped lay the foundations for our now independent and proud little nation. Let us remember him, and honour him. There would be no Fiji Airways were it not be for him. Lest we forget.
Ronald Gatty 
Wainadoi Gardens

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