Here is an interesting suggestion passed to me by Danish blog reader Hans Christian Bogstad who is living in Belgium at the moment.
You may be unaware but Crete is slowly building a new airport at Kastelli, which will eventually (2015 or later) replace the old Heraklion airport currently in use. Kastelli is, of course, one of the sites where SBS units successfully carried out raids on German aircraft in 1942 and 1943 (Operation Albumen – I don’t think Paddy was involved personally).
In Greece it is the habit to name airports after national heroes. My personal initiative is to suggest to you and to the world at large that the new airport be named the Patrick Leigh Fermor Airport.
Is there any more distinguished hero to give his name to the new Cretan airport than Paddy? Even the much less deserving creator of 007 had an airport named after him in Jamaica.
It may help that Paddy already was an honorary citizen of Heraklion, and that he probably had a multitude of Greek friends, some in high places.
Clearly there is a distinct possibility that the Cretans already have a name in mind, but there is no harm in asking. Would any Greek (speaking) readers wish to take this on and make some approaches?
Hans Christian Bogstad
You have to remember that PLF was not the Boss of the SOE on Crete , just one of the sector officers .
His earlier exploits and later literary legacy make him a major figure in English eyes , especially among the literate and for those ( to plagiarise Stephen Fry ) who can decline the verb, but viewed from a Cretan perspective , aside from the kidnapping of the General ( actually a nonentity rather than the War criminal Mueller the operation had been intended to net ) he is not a particularly outstanding figure .
There have been quite a number of English philhellene combattants in Greek and Cretan history since the 1800s , being realistic PLF is , from the Greek / Cretan perspective , just another in the Pantheon .
I think you would have an uphill task persuading Cretans to name their new major Airport for him . A far more likely modern personality might be the Cretan singer Nikos Xylouris .
I found the proposal and discussion most interesting and due to personal curiosity I read through the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority site to clarify certain points. In brief:
For 15 airports qualified as International Airports: 2 are named after outstanding political personalities, 6 are named after personalities of ancient (hellenistic) times or mythical figures, 1 is named after a geographical term, 3 are named after personalities of the arts and literature, 1 is named after a revolutionary figure of the 18th cent., 1 is named after a well known benefactor of modern times, and last but not least in 1 location a particular name to the tilte of the Airport has not been appointed.
For 26 airports qualified as National Airports only 6 have particular names other than the geographical reference of the airport region. Again, personalities of ancient (hellenistic) times retain the majority of name references.
Also, there are 4 active Municipal (island) Airports without any name reference other than the geographic location.
Overall, I think that any attempt to promote a particular naming of any airport (or the new Heraklion Airport) -or any other site for that matter- will require profound local (and political) support and understanding.
Also, we should not neglect that PLF remains (despite his unique contribution in the making of modern Greek history) a not well known figure amongst contemporary Greeks. It is precisely at the level of society at large that we have to initiate a wider discussion regarding the recognition of PLF in search of the appropriate symbolism(s) that will honour his name and legacy.
Thank you for all the work that you put into this Dimitris, and the detailed explanation.
I think there is sufficient interest to take something forward, even if it is not an airport!
The new airport at Kastelli should really be called “Patrick Leigh Fermor and Stanley Moss Airport”
A nice idea, but it’s unlikely to happen. Except for the capital (Eleftherios Venizelos Airport) and co-capital (Macedonia Airport), Greek regional airports are invariably named after the nearest town. I don’t know whether there is actually a law to that effect, but I do know that other attempts in the past at ‘personalising’ regional airport names have all failed for this reason.
John, please look at Wikipedia “list of airports in Greece” and you’ll see that they all carry the name of a person in addition to the name of the locality they serve. I think the idea is worth a try.
Hans Christian Bogstad
Thanks for that link, Hans. I stand corrected, though I will add that these names are virtually never used, and are unknown to the great majority of the public. My local airport, for example, which only handles one or at most two flights a day, turns out to be called “Eptanisos”; according a rapid and very unscientific poll, not one person living here had ever heard of the name, including people who use the airport almost weekly.
I did a little additional research, and discovered that most regional Greek airports acquired a name in 1992, at the height of the nationalist frenzy over the official naming of the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I suppose that having quickly baptised the (previously to all extents and purposes anonymous) Thessaloniki airport “Makedonia”, it was decided to go whole hog and give names to every last landing strip, including (rather ludicrously) the diminutive and privately owned field at Porto Cheli.
So… while it would be nice if Kastelli were indeed to be named after Paddy, it sounds as though it might after all be a rather obscure honour. Naming a street or square after him might be a more viable option. The Municipality of Heraklion took such a decision in principle last June – does anybody know if and when it was implemented?
What a super idea and well done !
What a great, great idea!