Seletar Airport will be torn down and rebuilt to expand its operations, as part of a bigger plan to increase the efficiency of Changi Airport. Here are five lesser-known facts about the airport, which is housed within Seletar Aerospace Park and managed by Changi Airport Group.
1. The Seletar Airport was completed in 1929 for the British Royal Air Force (RAF). It was the RAF's first air base in the Far East. It took in its first commercial flights in February 1930, and became the country's first international civil airport.
2. The first commercial flight to land in Seletar Airport was a test flight from a Dutch East Indies Airways plane with eight passengers from Jakarta, on Feb 10, 1930. The aircraft also carried with it the first direct air mail from Indonesia to Singapore, and fresh strawberries, plucked earlier that morning, from Java.
3. Before the Seletar Airport was built, the 600-acre land belonged to the Singapore United Rubber Plantations, now part of the Bukit Sembawang group. The land had 50 acres of coconut trees, 100 acres of mangrove swamp, and the rest was occupied by rubber trees.
4. In October 1977, four armed Vietnamese hijackers seized control of a DC-3 Air Vietnam plane with 36 passengers, and landed at Seletar Airport. The aircraft was on an internal flight from Ho Chi Minh city to Phu Quoc Island. The hijackers were armed with a revolver and knives. They killed two Vietnamese crew members, while a third person was seriously injured. All available police units, including the bomb disposal unit, were deployed to the airport, which had put out its runway lights. The hijackers eventually surrendered to the Singapore authorities.
5. The various flying schools account for about 80 per cent of the total number of flights operating at Seletar Airport. Aircraft charters, repairs and maintenance make up the remaining flights.
Sources: The Straits Times Archive, National Library Board e-Resources and the Seletar Airport website