Most travelers wonder why ‘SVD’ is the IATA code for the E.T Joshua Airport, especially since ‘SVG’ has become the popular country code for St. Vincent & the Grenadines since the early 1980’s. This trivia question has also run through the minds of millions of people over the past decades as they head to or ship items to St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Airport codes arose out of the convenience that it brought pilots for location identification in the 1930s. Airport codes are named after the first three letters of the city in which it is located however, some airport codes do not fit the normal scheme.
“St. Vincent, Diamond” is the meaning of SVD. Diamond, on the Southeast Coast, was the location of SVG’s first airport, hence SVD. Diamond airport, which first saw use in 1932 with the first flight to St. Vincent and was officially commissioned in 1934.
Planes invariably landed from the sea, downwind and touched down on the grassy runway just inside of the beach and sand dunes, and ran up along the valley, crossing over a man-made wooden bridge that spanned the river running down to the sea, and came to a stop in front of the terminal building dispersing its extremely gracious and lucky passengers.
Departing passengers would then board the plane, which taxied out from the airport terminal building, which is still there in among the trees at Diamond (near the gate to Diamond Woods), rev up, crossing the bridge, rumble down the grassy runway to the east, heading literally down the slope of the valley to the sea, and then lift into the trade winds and fly away, usually to Barbados.
The Airport remained in operation until the very early 1950’s, the decision was made to “move” the airport, and indeed the entire air transport system, over to Villa and to use sea-planes; the Grumman Goose being the popular airplane at the time. Diamond Airport was then abandoned.
So, now planes landed and took off from the water in front of Villa Beach in the Young Island Channel. A ramp was built to accommodate the sea-plane right where the taxis park today on the St Vincent side of the “Young Island Dock”. This was the new SVD airport. The reef joining what is now “Mariners’ Inn-to-Calliaqua Bay Point” over to Young Island was blasted open to accommodate the flights, creating a channel.
The seaplanes landed from the Indian Bay area and came into the airport. They took off after taxiing out to the Indian Bay area and took off in between Young Island and Villa Beach, heading out into Calliaqua Bay, then off to Seawell in Barbados.
One day something went very wrong, and a departing plane careened out of control, heading straight for a certain crash into the inhabited area. Fortunately, the pilot gained control and headed the plane towards a clear area but had to effectively crash land the plane. Everyone survived and the plane was hauled onto the beach.
The decision was made to build an airport in Arnos Vale. The new SVD airport took shape and was opened as the Vigie Airport in Arnos Vale in 1961.
Based on the accounts of: Mr. Anthony A.R. Gunn