Miss Agnes Shearer Takes Flight to Wick, 1931

As Orkney gets set to celebrate Scapa Flow 2023 Celebrating Scapa Flow we take a look back to a report of the first passenger to fly from Kirkwall to the Scottish Mainland.

In The Orkney Herald dated Wednesday 26th August 1931 it was reported:

An eighteen year old Kirkwall girl, Miss Agnes Shearer, had the distinction of being the first passenger to cross from Orkney to the mainland of Scotland by passenger aeroplane on Saturday. The plane was piloted by Flying Officer Fresson, and the flight was intended to put to the test a suggestion made to the Press a day or two previously by the well-known Orcadian airman, Oscar Garden, who considered passenger transport by air over the Pentland Firth to be an institution of the near future. The flight from Kirkwall to Wick was accomplished in 27 minutes.

Kirkwall airport terminal from the front with the statue which is a tribute to Fresson

In the following week under the headline ‘FIRST THURSO TO KIRKWALL AIR TAXI: Flying Officer Fresson’s Enterprise’ it was reported that a couple of gentlemen chartered Fresson to fly to ‘Orkney’s metropolis’.

Shortly after 11 o’clock on Saturday forenoon the now familiar Avro three seater was seen flying over Kirkwall from the direction of Scapa. It made a perfect landing in a field about a mile out on the Kirkwall-Stromness road, and disgorged its three occupants Flying Officer Fresson. Mr P.G. Angus commercial traveller for Messrs J & J Todd and Sons Leith, and Mr W.J. Montgomery Government Official Thurso.

Mr Fresson said he had brought his two passengers across the Firth from Thurso and had, by doing so, established the first passenger service between Thurso and Orkney. The time taken to cover the distance had been 29 minutes good going in a side wind, which had considerably impeded progress.

The passengers were very pleased with the flight.

Leaving the plane in the field where they had landed, the three ‘birdmen’ were conveyed into Kirkwall in a Government Mail van

The report continues stating that Mr Fresson ‘seems to be making a name for himself as the pioneer of commercial flying in the north.’

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