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Dragon Re-Enacts the First Air-Mail Flight

On 30th May 1934, Ted Fresson took off from Inverness for Kirkwall to deliver 2,000 letters. This was the inaugural flight of the first regular internal airmail service in the United Kingdom.

Highland Airways earned the Royal Mail pennant by running a daily service from Inverness to Orkney throughout the preceding 12 months with 98% regularity, a feat which many modern airlines would struggle to achieve.

To commemorate the 90th Anniversary of this flight, G-ACET, the last operational Dragon Rapide in the UK and the plane Fresson regularly used to service this route, took off from Inverness on the 1st of June 2024. Flown by its owner, George Cormack, the Dragon visited Wick and Kirkwall before returning safely to Inverness in 1 hour and 25 minutes in glorious high pressure weather.

The flight was a testament to the flying skills of George Cormack who was undeterred by the Dragon's less than forgiving handling and Mike Souch of Aero Antiques who had restored the plane as if it had just rolled out from the factory.

One can only imagine how Fresson coped with establishing the route during a Highland winter in winds up to 65mph. He reported that when the wind was particularly strong he would effect a vertical landing by matching the plane's forward speed to the opposing windspeed and slowly come down onto the tarmac!

Upon its return, the Trust presented a bursary award to Colm Wickham from Forres.  He is training with CAE under an easyJet job sponsorship but is self-funding.  Colm received £2300 for his Class 1 medical and module 1 ground school.  At the end of June he will go to Malaga to start his flight training.  The photos show trustees Chris-Birks and Richard Fresson presenting him with a certificate and a copy of Air Road to the Isles.

The Trust is indebted to the following for their assistance in making this event possible:

  • George Cormack – owner, G-ACET

  • Mike Souch - Aero Antiques

  • Dan Mason – Airport Operations Manager, Inverness Airport

  • David Geddes – Terminal Operations Manager, Inverness Airport

  • Ken and Anne McAlpine - Photography

  • Neil Thain – Member, Kirkwall Airport access

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