3rd April 1933

Highland Airways Ltd is founded

Highland Airways was one of Scotland’s earliest domestic airlines. It was founded by Ted Fresson in Inverness to provide services to Shetland and Orkney, but also flew to Thurso and Wick . Although founded on 3 April it didn’t fly its first passengers until 8 May.

The Aberdeen Press and Journal reported on the company’s founding five days after its first appearance, noting that it had capital of £2675 in 2500 ordinary shares of £1 each and 3500 Deferred shares of one shilling each. “Highland Airways Ltd had made arrangements for a regular air service between Inverness and Kirkwall and the institution of an air taxi service to the south is under consideration,” it reported. “The service, it is hoped in various quarters, may be extended to Aberdeen.”

Plane wrecked

In 1934, the company suffered a setback when its main plane was taking off from Kirkwall. The Orkney Herald of 5 September 1934 reported that the plane had been wrecked and eight people had had an “alarming experience” but that there were no serious injuries and the mail was still intact. “Apparently the sodden state of the flying field after continuous heavy rain prevented the machine from attaining sufficient speed to make a good take off. In crossing over the dyke at the southern boundary of the flying field the plane had gained barely enough height to clear it. The tail struck a wire on top of the dyke, and the plane dived into a shallow quarry just beyond. The machine rebounded from the bottom of the quarry, the undercarriage and motors struck the upper part of the face, and the plane crumpled up in a turnip field at the edge of the quarry. It landed on its smashed undercarriage but the floor and sides of the cabin were burst open. The pilot, Mr Coleman, was flung through the cabin window by the force of the impact.”

Valuable contract

Founder Ted Fresson had been something of a flying pioneer. Prior to setting up his own airline, he had run pleasure flights in both Scotland and England, using not airports – which were sparse in the inter-war years – but empty fields. With Highland Airways Limited, the second airline he’d established, he won the contract for ferrying mail to the islands.

However, the British airline industry was in a state of flux throughout the company’s existence. Not only were domestic air services interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, but the British government embarked on a programme of airline nationalisation. Thus, Highland Airways Limited initially became part of the larger Scottish Airways which, in turn, was absorbed into British European Airways.



Other events that occured in April

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