Celebrations are being held at Land’s End Airport this week to mark the 80th anniversary of flights to the Isles of Scilly.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, which owns and operates Land's End Airport, is hosting an anniversary party on October 4th which will feature a flyby involving the two current Skybus aircraft - a Twin Otter and an Islander plane - along with a special guest: a DH89a Dragon Rapide ‘Bryher’ from 1946, which regularly flew the route during the 1960s.
The Dragon Rapide was used to fly passengers when Scillonia Airways operated the service from 1966 to 1970, and will be on show at Land’s End Airport during the daytime event. There will also be a mini exhibition of 80 years of flying, and guests will be given tours of the Air Traffic Control tower.
The first flight from Land’s End to the Isles of Scilly took place on September 15th, 1937, landing on St Mary’s Golf Course because Scilly had no airport until 1939.
Numerous companies operated the service over the years, including Olley Air Service, Great Western & Southern Airlines, Scillonia Airways, BEA and Westward Airways. The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group began services in the 1980s.
As well as the 80th anniversary of flights from Land’s End to Scilly, this autumn is also the 30th anniversary of scheduled Skybus services to the islands. Skybus began in 1984, with scheduled passenger services implemented three years later in 1987.
Land's End Airport Manager Chris Pearson said: “This anniversary is a major milestone and we are delighted to be welcoming back to Land’s End Airport a Dragon Rapide which actually flew the route to Scilly back in the 1960s; the sight of this beautifully kept vintage aircraft flying past in sequence with a modern Twin Otter and Islander Skybus aircraft is sure to be a very special sight.
“Land’s End Airport has changed beyond recognition over the last 80 years, from a very basic grass airfield with a small building to the modern, £1 million passenger terminal we have today, and the Skybus aircraft are unrecognisable from their predecessors as well.
“We are proud to be maintaining this vital air link to the Isles of Scilly 80 years on, and continuing a tradition of flying to Scilly from Land’s End which has proven to be a lifeline for islanders and visitors alike for the last eight decades.”
Andrew May, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “We are enormously proud of our heritage and our company’s contribution to developing and improving air services to the Isles of Scilly, as well as the substantive, and ongoing, investment in Land’s End Airport, which has seen the terminal transformed in recent years, and the runways improved beyond recognition.
“This special anniversary provides a great opportunity to reflect on the history of the air link from Land’s End and to celebrate its development, as well as that of Skybus, which is now in its 30th year of scheduled passenger services.”
The Steamship Group is also celebrating the 80th anniversary with the community by giving away eight return flights from Land’s End to Scilly. Find out more details here.