Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Short Hop

I have not posted for a while as I have been on a cruise in Orkney aboard ZuzaDuring the cruise we visited the islands of Copinsay, Stronsay, Sanday, Westray, Papa Westray, Holm of Papa and Hoy. The cruise concluded yesterday (Wednesday), and in the coming weeks I will post some photos from the trip. 

It was on June 22, while visiting the Chapel of St Tredwell on Papa Westray, that I saw the little Islander airplane land after its short hop over from Westray. The distance from Westray to Papa Westray is only two kilometres, and the flight is known as the shortest scheduled commercial flight in the world. A few minutes later I heard the roar of the Islander's props as she took off to fly to Kirkwall. 

I had always wanted to take this 'World's Shortest' flight, and as I watched the little plane head south I decided I'd try to do it once I was back on Mainland Orkney. So yesterday I went to the airport and asked about going along as a 'sightseer' on the three-leg Kirkwall-Westray-Papa Westray-Kirkwall flight. I was told that if I showed up in the morning at 9, and if all three legs of the flight were not full, and if the total baggage weight the other passengers had was not too much, I could go. This morning I went to the airport, fully expecting to be turned away. But at 9:10 I was told I could go. Ten minutes later we were airborne.

Departure Board - flight ready to leave 
All aboard
Takeoff from Kirkwall

From Kirkwall we soared over Balfour Castle on Shapinsay, and then over the little island of Wyre. From there we passed over Egilsay, where I could see the round tower of St Magnus Church. Next up was Westray, where we started our descent over Pierowall. Six-hundred feet below I could see the Pierowall Hotel, where several of us on the cruise had a beer just five days ago. 
Soaring over Pierowall on the approach to Westray Airport
Approaching Westray Airport

Once on Westray several passengers left, a few joined, and then we made the one-minute hop over to the gravel field on Papa Westray.

Landing at Papa Westray
Papa Westray Terminal building

After a five minute layover we roared down the short field and took off for the 30 mile run back to Kirkwall. As we climbed out over Papa Sound we flew over the Holm of Papa, a tiny island with an amazing Chambered Cairn which we'd visited on the cruise.
Rolling down the runway - takeoff from Papa Westray
Holm of Papa - we'd visited it a few days earlier and crawled down a ladder into the tomb known as Dis o' the Holm, which is marked by the cairn you can barely see at the top centre of the island

Far too soon were were back at Kirkwall Airport. The flight only lasted 45 minutes, but it was an amazing 45 minutes. They gave me a certificate that I'd taken the flight (last photo), which will be a great souvenir of my trip to Orkney. More Orkney photos will be coming over the next few weeks. 
Landing back at Kirkwall
Flight Certificate

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