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Offline Tallman

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Pilot Mikey Cipriani dies in plane crash
« on: June 04, 2012, 10:34:40 AM »
Pilot Mikey Cipriani dies in plane crash
By Louis Homer (T&T Express)

Mikey Cipriani is Trinidad and Tobago's first known aviator.

He would also become, 78 years ago, one of Trinidad's first aviation victims, when his aircraft crashed in the Northern Range.

Cipriani was 42 years old.

Long before that, he cheated death, during his military service in World War I.

He was among a few who survived when Britain suffered the loss of 1,600 frontline fighters during the engagement between German and British forces in the Battle of Mons in 1914.

It was there Trinidad-born Cipriani served during World War I.

At the end of the war he was decorated with the Medal of Mons, a small token of appreciation from Britain.

Mons is a city in Belgium, which has been selected to be the European capital of culture in 2015.

Already recognised as the local hero of aviation, Cipriani also pioneered the effort to establish an airport in Tobago.

He died in a plane crash on June 3, 1934, while on his way to establish the airport in Tobago to serve as an air link between Trinidad and Tobago.

The decomposing bodies of Cipriani and his friend, Leslie Bradshaw, were found in the mountainous region of Brasso Seco, 11 days after the fatal crash.

They were on their way to make the first ever landing of an aircraft in Tobago.

Cipriani's wife, Daisy, was scheduled to travel with him on the historic flight, but was unable, so he took Bradshaw instead, in his two-seater plane named Humming Bird.

The take-off at Mucurapo was witnessed by hundreds. His body was buried at Mucurapo cemetery on June 13, not far from where the fatal trip started.

It was suggested that the crash might have been caused by hazy, overcast conditions over the Northern Range.

The cause remains unknown.

The death of Cipriani and the loss of his plane brought an immediate halt to the government's plan to link Trinidad and Tobago by air.

After the crash, several groups of volunteers, including boy scouts and girl guides, combed the forest for days in search of Cipriani's plane. After eight days of search, the wreckage was found in an area overlooking the village of Brasso Seco.

Among the items recovered from the crash site was a compass used during the flight. That artefact is now lodged at the Visitors Centre at Brasso Seco in a glass cupboard.

The remains of Cipriani and Bradshaw were taken to Port of Spain amid widespread grief and buried a day later at Mucurapo cemetery on June 13.

There are residents in the rural village of Los Attajos (pronounced lasataw, meaning a short cut) who recall the incident.

A 90-year-old resident said, "I was still at school when the incident happened.

"Three of us were pitching marbles in the road when suddenly we heard a loud noise in the air, then a loud crash in the mountain. We got frightened and ran home because we did not know what had happened.

"Later that night we were told that a plane had fallen from the sky."

He said he was among the team of villagers who had travelled to the mountain in search of the plane.

"What led to the discovery of the plane was the trail of damage done to trees in the forest.

"Some of them looked as if they were cut with a saw or a sharp instrument."

Cipriani's funeral was reported to be one of the biggest in Port of Spain.

Some 15,000 people attended the funeral, while others lined the route where the cortege travelled to get to the cemetery.

Cipriani's first love was sports. Before leaving for England to serve in World War I, he had won many cycling races locally and in the Caribbean.

He had even crowned himself the "Cyclist of the West Indies".

As an all-round sportsman, he was deeply involved with cricket and football.

He had represented Trinidad in Barbados in 1911 in a cricket match. Added to this, he was also an accomplished boxer.

When the war started in 1914, Cipriani gave up his sporting career to join the armed forces.

On arrival in England, he was recruited in the Second Life Guards and sent to the war trenches in France.

During the Battle of Mons, he was among a few who survived German attacks.

The Mons battle signified the first engagement between British and German forces on the western front, which began on August 23, 1914.

After the war, Cipriani returned to Trinidad and engaged himself in sporting activities, but soon gave this up after he got married.

His career as an air pilot started after his wife went to England on a holiday and met a man who was pioneering the design of small aircraft.

Cipriani became excited about the prospect of becoming a pilot.

So he went to England and enrolled in a school offering training courses for pilots.

Later he ordered a small aircraft from England, and, together with his wife, began flying from Mucurapo to Piarco.

Later on, he ventured outside Trinidad to show his flying skills.

He travelled to Grenada, then St Vincent and Barbados.

By then, he was regarded as a famous pilot, and the first in Trinidad.

His career came to an end that fateful day on June 3, 1934.

The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline E-man

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Re: Pilot Mikey Cipriani dies in plane crash
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 12:31:00 PM »
Sky Was His Limit
Author: Michael Anthony
Date Published: 2000-01-19
Source: Trinidad Express
Page: 30-31

One of the most colourful figures who shaped our 20th century was Mikey Cipriani.

Cipriani, who was born in 1890, was setting a hot pace among cyclists of the Caribbean even before he was 15.

His great year came in 1910 when he was 20. Cipriani matched wheels with the best cyclists of Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica, and among the rest of his colleagues in Trinidad, to crown himself West Indies cycling champion.

He excelled in all manner of sport. He represented Trinidad in inter-colonial cricket, and was also one of the foremost footballers in the land.

Indeed, one of the football critics of that time described Cipriani as a problem for selectors, because, he wrote, "he shone in every position on the field."

Cipriani was also a pole-vaulter of exceptional ability. He boxed, too, and later became a prominent boxing referee in Port of Spain.

But all this was before the First World War. When the European conflict broke out on August 4, 1914, Cipriani put aside bicycle, cricket gear, football gear, his vaulting pole, and his boxing gloves, and headed for Europe.

He even put aside a career, for in the heat and frenzy of that cycling day he had studied hard enough to qualify as a solicitor.

However, he went to the front. He did not go with the Trinidad contingents who left in 1915, but for some reason went privately.

The reason for this may well have been the clear-cut and well-delineated colour situation in Trinidad at the time. Of the two classes of contingents which left, one was the public contingent, for black recruits, and the other, the Merchants and Planters contingents, comprising white recruits.

Cipriani, who shared the blood of both black and white, may have decided he belonged to neither group.

In Europe, he joined the Second Life Guards and saw service mainly in France and Belgium. One of the most spectacular moments he lived was when, in the famous battle of Mons, Belgium, the Germans wiped out an entire battalion, leaving but few survivors. Cipriani happened to be one of the survivors. He was later decorated with the Medal of Mons.

Returning home in 1919 his life was to turn from sport forever. He was 29 and his prowess on the sporting field had deserted him.

He took solicitors chambers on St Vincent Street and worked for a while.

But the call of bravado and adventure was a strong call.

During the last stages of the war he had seen little flying machines and his great passion was to learn to fly. As soon as he came back he married a white girl called Daisy Mathieu. This itself called for some bravado, for Trinidad society had decreed that the races must not mix.

But the real bravado came when, shortly after his marriage, he went to England to take flying lessons from Geoffrey de Havilland, one of the pioneers of the aeroplane.

Cipriani learned to fly in record time and ordered his own aeroplane from de Havilland.

It was already 1931 and one of the earliest of airlines, the French Compagnie Generale Aeropostale, had begun running a service from France to South America, with a stop at Trinidad.

But they cleared out soon afterwards and it is said that Cipriani dug up their landing strip and prepared a proper runway for flying.

Earle Lickfold, a Trinidadian who was one of the pioneer fliers in the war, brought the airplane down for Cipriani - a tiny two-seater which he christened Hummingbird.

They collaborated in running pleasure flights at Piarco. But most of all Cipriani and his wife Daisy made the most of fling practice, and here was where the hero mastered the technique of flying.

This technique of Cipriani's stood him in good stead when on October 22, 1933, the Graf Zeppelin flew low over Trinidad.

The airship, which was on its way from South America to Germany, came in at Mayaro.

At one point of the way, Cipriani went up to greet and welcome the crew of the Graf Zeppelin. The sight, and the gesture, must have filled Trinidadians with pride.

But the sands of time ran out quickly for Cipriani. In 1934 the government of Trinidad and Tobago was thinking of establishing an air-link between Trinidad and Tobago.

When he was approached, Cipriani reacted with enthusiasm. The authorities prepared a suitable airstrip at Shirvan Park, and Cipriani was ready to make the first flight to Tobago and the first ever landing in Tobago.

On the morning of Sunday, June 3, 1934, he set out from a little airstrip, which he had constructed at Mucurapo. Daisy could not make the trip and Cipriani was accompanied by a colleague, Leslie Bradshaw.

Some years afterwards, Daisy said, "I did not have the least fear that anything would go wrong. But when the time for his arrival passed and I heard nothing I became a little anxious. I telephoned the cable office.

"When they said they had heard nothing I became really worried. I grew frantic. I then got in touch with Tobago and they told me that they had been looking out but that they had not seen him. It is hard to describe what I felt then."

And Daisy's feeling was justified. What had happened was that despite the brightness of the Sunday morning, Cipriani, in scaling the northern range to take a clear course for Tobago, had hit a tree.

A search party found the plane seven days later in the forests of El Chiquero, near Blanchisseuse.

A mess of debris, flesh and bloodstains meant the end of Mikey Cipriani.

Offline E-man

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Re: Pilot Mikey Cipriani dies in plane crash
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 12:33:45 PM »
He was also involved in football. He is listed in a number of line-ups for Local Forces and All Trinidad between 1910 and 1922 here:


Offline Dutty

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Re: Pilot Mikey Cipriani dies in plane crash
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2012, 11:07:58 AM »
It really was a different time back then oui...de people sen little girl guides and scouts to search for two dead man in thick thick forest

on a changed note,, I never realize it had so much carribbean man that leave they country to go and suck mustard gas in the first war
no doubt most were used as cannon fodder in the front lines
Little known fact: The online transportation medium called Uber was pioneered in Trinidad & Tobago in the 1960's. It was originally called pullin bull.

Offline Observer

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Re: Pilot Mikey Cipriani dies in plane crash
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2012, 06:59:43 PM »
My Grandfather went and two uncles. It was the times
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead
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