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"Lihiniya" aircraft for public display at SLAF Museum

June 05, 2015

State Minister of Defence Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene declared open the "Lihiniya" aircraft for public display at the Sri Lanka Air Force Museum in Ratmalana, Thursday (04). The 'Lihiniya' once belonged to late Dr. Ray Wijewardene, the renowned engineer, innovator and aviator.

The Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal KA Gunatilleke and family members of late Dr. Wijewardene were also present at the occasion.


State Minister Wijewardene handed over a model replica of "Lihiniya" to the representatives of Dr. Wijewardene's family for their magnanimous gesture in allowing the vintage aircraft for public display.


Philip Revatha (Ray) Wijewardene was born in Colombo August 1924. He had his primary and secondary education at Ladies' College, Colombo, and St Thomas' College Mount Lavinia. He proceeded to Peterhouse College, Cambridge University, UK, where he studied three branches of engineering aeronautical, mechanical and agricultural. He also earned qualifications in business administration from the Harvard Business School, and later received honorary degrees from universities in the UK and Sri Lanka.


In 1955, Ray designed the world's first two-wheeled, hand tractor.


He has held many important appointments as the Chairman of the Tea Research Board, and head of the Inventors Commission. He was Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa from 2002 to 2007.


He was awarded the highest national honours of Vidya Jyothi (Luminary of Science) and Deshamanya (Pride of the Nation) for distinguished public service by the government.


Speaking at the event the State Minister Wijewardene highlighted the valuable service rendered by Dr. Wijewardene to the agricultural, engineering and aviation field in Sri Lanka and also expressed his gratitude to Dr. Wijewardene's family.


"Lihiniya" is a Kitfox Model 2 aircraft produced by the Denney Kitfox Aircraft Company in the USA. The particular aircraft had been brought to Sri Lanka in 1990 and assembled by Dr. Wijewardene himself.


After his passing away in 2010, the aircraft was passed on to a few aviation enthusiasts before being taken into the guardianship of the Sri Lanka Air Force on 11th March 2015.


State Minister Wijewardene also visited the Air Force museum, souvenir shop and workshop during the occasion.


Chief of Staff Air Vice Marshal GP Bulathsinghala, senior Air Force officers and media personnel were present at the ceremony.