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Trip Report: Flying the world’s shortest scheduled commercial flight

Having flow the world’s longest scheduled commercial flight (Singapore Airlines (SQ) from Newark, NJ (EWR) to Singapore (SIN) on an Airbus A340-500), I yearned to fly the shortest.  For  a few years I tried to take the world’s shortest scheduled flight from Papa Westray, Orkney Islands, Scotland (PPW) to Westray, Orkney Islands, Scotland (WRY) a distance of about 1 nautical mile, but various things prevented this from occurring. Today, 18 July , 2010, nothing stood in the way.

 

Loganair Norman Islander
Loganair Norman Islander

 

The flight is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as being 2 minutes. After the flight you get an official certificate and in true Scottish style, a small bottle of Scottish Whiskey with which to celebrate the event. It is even of the right size to fit in your carry on baggage.

The world’s shortest scheduled flight is operated by Soctland’s Loganair on a single piloted twin-engined Briton Norman Islander. The flight starts in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands Scotland (KOI) as LOG377 departing at 15:00 (3p for the Americans). It then heads for Papa Westray, then to Westray and back to Kirkwall for a total scheduled time of 0:44.  Here is the complete itinerary:

  1. Kirkwall to Papa Westray        15:00 15:16
  2. Papa Westray to Westray     15:21 15:23
  3. Westray to Kirkwall                   15:28 15:44

Of all the small airlines I’ve flown, this one impressed me the most. Simplicity is its name. I e-mail them and got an immediate reply, well in a few hours as it was late at night their time when I e-mailed. The guy who responded was courteous and explained the whole process. As it turns out, when I arrived in Kirkwall from Aberdeen, Scotland (ABZ) he was at the counter.  You see he is the reservations agent, the e-mail response guy, the check-in clerk and the lone ground handling personnel.  He is one of four he tells me in a fantastic Scottish accent.  It was fun to watch him at work.

 

Loganair Ticket counter in Kirkwall, Scotland
Loganair Ticket counter in Kirkwall, Scotland

 

When I e-mailed, he advised that the price is 39 GBP and hat I needed to call on the day of travel once they open the office so I can book.  You see if the weather is bad then the flight won’t operate. Once I got to Kirkwall, I introduced myself and he booked me on the flight and told me to pay the next day when I arrived as I was rushing to get the 1.20 GBP bus to the city. You can check this page at http://www.loganair.co.uk/reservations/ for reservations information including the schedules.  The schedule I used is located at http://www.loganair.co.uk/xtra_files/OrkneyTimetable_31oct10.pdf in PDf format.

The next day I arrived early as I wanted to check out the operations and the bus from the city was ill timed for that flight so I had to take the 12:45p bus; the journey is about 15 minutes. No worries it was fun to watch the airport operations.

There were four of us booked on the flight. Two locals, a guy from Italy and myself. Check-in, well, there was no check-in, we just followed the agent to the plane and boarded.  How simple was that.  I sat behind the right seat, the Italian dude next to me and the couple behind us.  The lone pilot gave us the safety briefing and we were off.

As we approached Papa Westray, the Captain pointed it out.  We then flew over Westray made a right turn and landed on the grass runway at Papa Westray, a two-room single building terminal. One room for passengers and staff, the other housed the “fire truck,” which actually had the license plate with the letters “LHR” in it.  Go figure.  Do you think that was on purpose? I say fire truck as it is really an SUV with fire stuff behind it.

 

Papa Westray from the air
Papa Westray from the air

 

We picked up two ladies who sat behind the couple, got some cargo (a little box) and we were off down the gravel runway this time.  We then made a right hand turn, then a left hand turn and landed about 2 minutes later on the grass runway in Westray as it had started to rain.  We then taxied up to a similar building as at Papa Westray, except it said Westray on it; yes a SUV in the garage as well.

The couple disembarked and a lone male passenger boarded.  There was a “welcoming” committee at the terminal waiving and taking pictures.  I felt like I did when I flew in the Micronesian Islands, it was so cool. Some pleasantries were exchanged by the ground crew and the Captain and we were off as it started to rain heavier.  We made it down the gravel runway turned around and took off in no time.

We initially flew back at about 5,000 feet as it was raining above, then later climbed back up to our original cruisin’ altitude of 7,000′ until we descended into Kirkwall about 5 minutes early ending the journey of the world’s shortest scheduled commercial flight. I was elated and extremely happy.  Once inside the terminal, myself and the Italian guy were presented our certificates with our names on it and signed by the Captain plus our little bottle of Scotch whiskey.

Well, enough of that here are the pictures.  Enjoy them and please leave a comment.  Have you taken this flight before?

 

Video of the flight

Video of the landing in Kirkwall

175 thoughts on “Trip Report: Flying the world’s shortest scheduled commercial flight

  1. Just have to ask you if you would kindly correct your description please. The drink is whisky, no e in it. Whiskey with an e is the Irish drink. It may sound like I’m being rude but it is very important to make the distinction, after all it is our biggest export and you don’t want to but the wrong thing. Please correct the spelling to this Scottish whisky. Thanks.

  2. It takes me longer to walk from my apartment to my car in the morning. And I have a less scenic view on the way. ROFLMAO.

  3. Congrats, Kerwin! I did this in 1995, but didn’t get any Scotch, dang it! I did all 9 legs of the system without a break, but it only took about two hours! It looks like they’ve got a new terminal at KOI. What’s the story on the paint scheme on the Islander? I didn’t know there was a certificate when I took the flight. A few months later, I got a call in the middle of the night (in the U.S.) from the Captain (I had given him my business card), and he wanted my mailing address to get my certificate to me. Now THAT’s service! I still remember his name was Stuart Linklater. Luckily I was awake (I was at work)!

    1. Fil,
      Thanks. Awesome! You are my inspiration for doing this trip. Kirkwall has changed a lot; the terminal looks quite new. I will add some more pictures of it soon. The Loganair crew was really nice. I have to go back and do the rest of the airports up there. I almost did Ronaldsay, but decided to sleep in, have a good breakfast and see a little more of Kirkwall, no regrets there. It was all so relaxing.
      Not sure of the deal with the paint scheme. I did not ask, but will send a note and see what gives. i was thrilled as this was my first time in an Islander. Noisy as you can hear in the video.

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