Aviation in Barbados celebrated a 100 years in 2013 and which such a long aeronautical tradition, An Airport was a necessity. This came to fore with the Seawell Airport now known as the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Air transportation at the site of present-day facility, goes back as far as 1938. When on the 19th October 1938, mail shuttle from Trinidad, a Lockheed-14 with the name ‘Parkiet’ registration PJ-AIP of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines landed at Seawell.
At the time there was merely a grass strip as the runway. The first passenger service was inaugurated on 6th February 1939. The strip was paved some time later and in 1949 the first terminal was built on the site, to replace a shed that was being used. This ushered in the facility being formally known as the Seawell Airport.
During the 1960s the eastern flight-range just south-east of the airport became known as Paragon. This area became the initial base of a ‘High Altitude Research Project’ known as Project HARP. Project HARP was jointly sponsored by McGill University in Canada and the United States military.
In 1976 the Seawell Airport was renamed in honour of the First Premier of Barbados, Sir Grantley Herbert Adams. That same year Cubana Airways Flight 455 ploughed into the waters off the west coast of Barbados. None of the 73 passengers and crew, including the sixteen-member Cuban championship fencing team, survived the crash of the Douglas DC-8 on October 6, 1976. The flight had just departed Seawell Airport. This was for decades, the Western Hemisphere’s most deadly terrorist airline attack.
In the 1977, the supersonic aircraft, British Airways’ Concord, marked its first arrival into the island in order to return Her Majesty the Queen home to England.
In 1983, the US invasion of Grenada prompted the United States to form another agreement with Barbados. As part of the deal, the US expanded a part of the current airport infrastructure. This prepared Grantley Adams Airport to be used as a base. The United States assisted in the establishment of the Regional Security System (RSS) at the eastern Grantley Adams flight-range.