AN AMPHIBIOUS aircraft marked World Water Day by landing in the sea beside a former flying boat base at the entrance to Southampton Water.

Described as the first floatplane landing at the former RAF Calshot for many years, the Cessna Caravan 208 touched down in the Solent before being brought ashore using one of the old slipways.

The Cessna had been due to land the day before but the sea was judged to be too choppy.

Owned by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the brand new aircraft is about to embark on life-saving work in remote parts of Bangladesh.

World Water Day aimed to focus attention on the challenges faced by billions of people around the world who do not have access to clean water.

A MAF spokesman said: "Those living in Bangladesh experience some of the most extreme water challenges on Earth. Climate change is leading to the contamination of arable land by seawater and seasonal flooding ruins thousands of lives every year.

"An amphibious aircraft is a lifeline at times of natural disaster, enabling humanitarian relief to reach those in greatest need."

International Development Secretary and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt added: “Bangladesh has a strong track record in preventing loss of life from the devastating floods and cyclones which hit the country every year.

"The arrival of this new seaplane, backed by UK aid, will enable experts to provide aerial surveys to identify the areas worst hit by floods.

"This will ensure that the right type of lifesaving aid gets to those in dire need.

“More than eight million people across Bangladesh were affected in some way or other by the floods last year. Homes were destroyed and livelihoods ruined, but UK aid is making a difference and is ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people are protected.”

The Solent ceremony marked the plane's first-ever water landing.

The former RAF base - now Calshot Activities Centre - was one of the biggest aviation centres in the south and hosted the 1929 Schneider Trophy race.

Calshot Naval Air Station was opened in 1913 and was initially used by the Royal Flying Corps.

It was taken over by the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War and became an RAF station when the service was formed on April 1 1918.

Aircraftsman T E Shaw, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was based at Calshot in the 1920s.


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