Magnificent man and his flying machine

It was Tuesday, 8 May,1933 and Captain Ernest Fresson was taking off on the first scheduled flight in the Highlands – from Inverness, via Wick, to Kirkwall, establishing what would become the longest continuously-operating scheduled air service in
Europe and probably the world.

Scouting out his routes in his little Gypsy Moth, he prepared the ground – and the air – for Highland Airways, which he established with help from the Inverness motor engineers Macrae & Dick. Fresson's ability to get mail and passengers through in all weathers became a byword. "He was a highly-skilled pilot and a determined businessman who adopted the north of Scotland and stuck with it, right through very acrimonious times," said Morgan.

The foggy weather which threatened that first flight, as well as the hazards of flying those fragile early aircraft, returned to haunt last Thursday's 75th anniversary celebrations, when the planned flypast over Inverness was transferred to Orkney because of predicted fog.

Just over a year after that historic flight to Orkney, he inaugurated the UK's first scheduled airmail service on the same route and went on to open up many other Highland and island routes now taken for granted.

He is also credited with the concept of Britain's first Tarmac runway, at Hatston, Orkney. By the Second World War, his airline had become part of the early British Airways and after the war it was nationalised, along with other domestic air services, into British European Airways.

What a Lady Part 11

KIRKWALL dental nurse Natasha Groundwater has made it into the top 20 of The Sun's Miss Scotland competition.NatashaGroundwater.jpg

"It's absolutely fantastic, I'm still overwhelmed!" said Natasha, who was chosen to face the public vote after a photo shoot in Glasgow last weekend. "So far it's all been a really good experience, to have everyone from Orkney behind me would make it even better."

The final ten contestants will take part in the glamorous Miss Scotland final in Glasgow's Princes Square on May 25, where the judges will decide who walks away with the crown. The highly sought-after title comes with a £10,000 prize and contract with Scotland's fastest growing marketing agency, DADA.

The lucky winner will also jet off to Ukraine to represent her country at the glittering Miss World competition.

What a Lady

Pentland Ferries’ new catamaran was officially named in the Philippines on Tuesday.

Owner Andrew Banks, and his wife, Susan, travelled out to Cebu for the ceremony, which saw the vessel named Pentalina.


The Pentalina is due to be launched on Thursday 24th, and be sea trialled and completed, ready for the voyage back to the UK. She is expected to come into service in early summer.

May Madness - Turriedale May 7-14th.

Orkneycrofts is offering a special for Turriedale May 7-14th.

May Special Offers.




The fully stocked kitchen will be supplied free of charge this week only.


Yuri Blast Off

One of Scotland's most famous Neolithic sites - Skara Brae in Orkney - has commemorated a defining moment in the space race.

The pathway to the prehistoric village is lined with carved stones that form a time trail of major events in history.

A new stone was unveiled on Saturday, marking the anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbiting the Earth on 12 April, 1961.

Despite bad weather, a number of locals turned out for the event.

Historic Scotland created the pathway to emphasise changes which have taken place since the settlement was inhabited 5,000 years ago.

Doreen Grove, Historic Scotland's head of access and understanding, said: "Uri Gagarin's mission was a defining moment in human history.

"At Historic Scotland we are delighted to commemorate an event of such importance by including it in the Skara Brae timeline."

The idea for the new stone was suggested by Russian Alexander Korobko, who visited in 2006 in search of his Orcadian roots.

Mr Korobko said: "I am delighted that Historic Scotland is commemorating the space flight of Uri Gagarin at Skara Brae."

Tatiana Danilova, trade marketing executive at VisitScotland for Central and Eastern Europe, said: "Russia is an important emerging tourism market for Scotland, thanks to its growing economy.

"I hope that the stone will be something Russian visitors enjoy seeing and will talk about when they return home."