November – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 05)
The Banner Says…
Flying high above Scotland’s islands
For many tourists a visit to Scotland’s diverse range of islands involves a leisurely and picturesque ride on a ferry of Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac).
However, for those that live on the nearly 800 majestic isles air services are a vital connection to mainland Scotland, and beyond. As we go to
press with this issue a scheme is being launched for islanders who will be able to access the lowest fares on the Scottish Government-supported air services serving Barra and Tiree.
The Residents Fare Card will cap fares for island residents and ensure they always have access to the cheapest tickets, even during peak periods. This lifeline to the mainland will allow those isolated residents to make medical appointments not available on the islands, visit family, travel for work or study and other key travel purposes.
Scotland boasts some quite unique island air services which stand out in the world of aviation today. Firstly would have to be the world’s shortest flight, which takes place in Scotland’s far north. The shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world is operated by Loganair between Westray and Papa Westray in Orkney. Whilst the flight is scheduled for just one and a half minutes, the 1.7-mile journey often lasts less than a minute. Loganair, Scotland’s regional airline that services Scotland’s Highlands and islands, flies the route which connects on to Orkney’s largest centre Kirkwall.
On the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides is one of the world’s most unique airports located on the northern part of the island. Barra Airport is located on Traigh Mhor beach where flights land at the world’s only beach with scheduled air services. Flights to Barra from Glasgow are not set to popular travel times, but rather flight schedules are always changing as they depend on the tidal flows. The runway washes away at high tide and reappears at low tide.
Lying between Shetland and Orkney lies the Fair Isle with a population of just 60 residents, making it one of Britain’s most remote inhabited islands. On the island is one of the UK’s smallest airports which is quite uniquely run by the National Trust for Scotland. Loganair is bringing back flights to the Fair Isle in 2024 to coincide with the reopening of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, which sadly burned down in 2019. Looking ahead to travel to the islands of Scotland may soon look to take a greener approach as companies are looking to Scotland to lead the way for more environmentally friendly air travel using new technologies such as electric or hydrogen net-zero aircraft.
In this issue
I still can recall as a child my very first trip to Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Our family would have been coming from Canada to see our Scottish family and as the plane descended
over the Ayrshire countryside, I knew I was somewhere different. I vividly remember the large check in hall and the complete sense of excitement that I was travelling on a plane
brought. This month we hear about the key role Prestwick has played in Scottish aviation history and connecting Scotland with the world.
Each August in Scotland there are hundreds of events taking place, but for one region all roads lead to Lonach. The Lonach Highland Games are presented by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society which was established in 1823. The Games had a big visitor this year and has a long history of Scottish tradition.
This year a project was launched to mark the centenary of the repopulation of the Minginish peninsula on the beautiful Isle of Skye. The area of Skye had been cleared out during the 1800s and in 1923 families were brought from across Harris, Lewis and other parts of Skye to repopulate the area. This would become the largest single repopulation undertaken in Scotland because of the ‘land for heroes’ initiative after the First World War.
Some readers may remember when last year I included my dog Fergus in these pages. Several people wrote in after seeing Fergus and told us about their pets and how rewarding life was with them. Sadly, I lost Fergus recently and his loving face is no longer under my desk as I write these editorials. Fergus in his very own unique way helped each month with the publication of the Scottish Banner, he reset me on deadlines when stress increased and helped me more times than I can remember to get through a day. The office, and my home, are now a much quieter place and I will miss him terribly.
Thank you, Fergus, for giving me over 12 years of incredible love, loyalty and family, it certainly was an honour to walk beside you every day, and for leaving me with so many
happy memories of a life very well lived which I will always treasure.
This month also see’s Scots around the world gather for St Andrews Day on (or around) November 30th. If you are celebrating, I hope you enjoy some great food, company and of course a wee dram.
Have you taken a flight to a Scottish island? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us
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