Piloting the shortest hop

After 24 years of linking remote communities in Scotland and its islands, Loganair pilot Stuart Linklater flew the shortest scheduled airline route in the world for the last time on Sunday, 26 May. He’s retiring to fly part-time for the airline out of Glasgow.

Stuart has flown the world’s shortest route - between the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray - 12,000 times, and holds the record for the shortest runway-to-runway time: 53 seconds! You can see the single-runway airfields – facing each other across the narrowest part of the inter-isle strait – in the Google Earth image below:

Westray airfields.jpg

Stuart’s based in the Orkneys and is well known there. For more than two decades he’s been flying his Britten-Norman Islander not only between the Westrays, but also on other inter-isle routes out of Kirkwall toStronsay, Sanday, North Ronaldsay and Eday. 

Loganair reckons he has chalked upmore than 1.3 million miles in the single-pilot eight-seater, and points out that Stuart has flown “enough miles to circumnavigate the globe 50 times”, which in an Islander is no mean feat and must have taken rather a long time.


Stuart Linklater.jpg

Stuart, who has just turned 60, will continue part-time at Loganair, operating the airline’s18-seater DHC Twin Otter out of Glasgow to Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown. About his career, he says: “I made my first flight as a student pilot on 4 May 1982 and instantly became hooked on aviation. Flying theIslander in some of the most challenging weather conditions in Scotland meansI’ve had my fair share of turbulence over the years, but I’ve enjoyed everyminute of it.”

Stuart joined Loganair after gaining his commercial pilot’slicence through Air Service Training at Perth in 1988, and has worked with “Scotland’s airline” for a total of 25 years, 16 of those on thecompany’s former air ambulance contract.

It just goes to show that flying for a living doesn’t have to be long-haul death by digitalia.

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