ON A WING AND A PRAYER
AFTER LAST WEEK’S TRIP TO BARRA WE VISIT ORKNEY AND FAIR ISLE, DISCOVERING THE CRITICAL ROLE AIR TRAVEL PLAYS IN THE LIVES OF ISLANDERS
Susan Swarbrick and photographer Jamie Simpson take off on a breathtaking trip to Orkney and Fair Isle
MARY Groat is off babysitting, she tells me as we strap ourselves into the tiny eight-seater plane. The retired hospital worker from Kirkwall is flying to Westray where her son Stewart and his wife Marian run a cafe and shop in the village of Pierowall.
“It takes about an hour-and-a-half to sail and only around 15 minutes on the plane,” she smiles, settling back for the short flight. “So, this is far preferable.”
Towards the rear of the cabin are a couple of folk headed to Papa Westray. Our pilot Captain Alex Rendall is sitting directly in front of me, a bank of complex-looking dials and switches at his fingertips. He is close enough that I could reach out and tap his shoulder if I so chose.
Rendall runs through some final paperwork, completes the safety checks and with a twinkly-eyed smile enquires: “Is everyone strapped up in the back?”
The serrated coastline of Fair Isle spreads out below a Loganair Islander aircraft