March 18 - Sri Lanka's Civil Aviation Day :
Making Lanka a miraculous global hub in aviation
Unique in human history, Sri Lanka is a place blessed by the living
Buddha and in many a sacred place Buddha relics are enshrined, occupying
great serenity. It is a home to historically and architecturally
significant sites. Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Mihintale etc are pieces
of history brought to life.
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.
The people lived for centuries working for royalty who in turn paid
their dedicated attention to their welfare, giving life to the ancient
concept of tank, temple, dagoba and the village. Many were simple
farmers in the land of their forefathers, civilised in culture, devoted
Their mode of transport to religious places in particular was the
bullock cart spending days to reach the destination.
According to ancient Indian epics, Ramayanaya and Mahabharatha that
there was some sort of flying involving the royalty between India and
Sri Lanka, which gives added strength to the fact that Sri Lanka was in
close proximity to India. There is mention of the Dandumonara, a flying
contraption used by them.
Before coming to modern aviation, Sri Lanka is believed to have been
engaged in some kind of flying a long time ago. It is after the Wright
brothers’ invention during the industrial revolution that the true and
real aviation came into being. The imperial masters made a tremendous
contribution in this field. The country was benefited in various ways.
The background for the government's aim to make Sri Lanka the aviation
hub originated during this era.
Emerging from three decades of violent conflict, devastation and
destruction, the government is marching forward after the massive
humanitarian operation. President Mahinda Rajapaksa was very keen in the
emergence of the five fold hubs of development - Naval, Knowledge,
Aviation, Power and Energy to render the greatest service to the people
of Sri Lanka, to make Sri Lanka the aviation hub. He declared March 18th
Sri Lanka's civil aviation day with the inauguration of the Mattala
Rajapaksa International Airport.
The beginning of aviation in Sri Lanka took place around 1912 when
the first aircrafts are said to have landed at the Colombo Racecourse
and the present Ratmalana airport.
With gradual progress the dawn of the Second World War and the
importance attached to Sri Lanka's geographical and strategic position
necessitated a base for a multitude of activities which brought about
the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport in no time and it was
improved in stages by the subsequent governments in the country after
During the Second World War, Sri Lanka hardly had any progress in
aviation to be called theirs during which time the Katunayake BIA,
Colombo and Trincomalee, were bombed from the air. War planes were
flying, the people watched with fear so many planes flying abreast
Then, still later, during the most turbulent times, that the country
experienced, there was severe damage to our aviation and air power.
Katunayake's BIA was the most affected with bomb attacks of a crucial
This was the era that there were global rumours that Sri Lanka was
not safe and secure for air travel. Ever since the people made the
ultimate sacrifice and with the subsequent development process a new era
dawned which paved the way for all round progress.
The swift uplift and changes soon took place for the better. The
Mattala airport was a clear outcome of this era which revealed its
flying roots to the world.
When considering the aviation, there is an amazing increase in
tourism. On March 18th Sri Lanka opened its doors to the entire globe.
Today, there are two international airports and 14 domestic airports
opened for the use of both the military and the public. There are 51
different types of aircrafts in the possession of the Air Force. Today,
they own Attack and Offensive support Aircrafts, Reconnaissance and
Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Transport Aircraft, Attack helicopters,
Support and Transport Helicopters and training Aircrafts.
All these inclusive of a truly elite Air Force paved the way for Sri
Lanka to become on par with other countries having superior aviation
capabilities. All these no doubt play a key role in the quest for global
fame to move forward for economic prosperity.
Sri Lanka also embarked on a new journey in aviation with the opening
of the second international outlet in the south. All these make Sri
Lanka a miraculous global hub in aviation.