The politician Stewart Stevenson remembers his first flight on a Beech 18 – as a naive newlywed.
“As we flew over the North Sea, we were so close to fishing trawlers that we saw the washing hanging out on the rigging,”
Laughs MSP Stewart Stevenson as he recalls his first experience of the Beech 18 aircraft. Having been interested in flying since he was a schoolboy, Stevenson didn’t get the chance to experience flying until he and his wife set off on their honeymoon to Norway.
“When we arrived at Aberdeen Airport, neither of us found it unusual when we were invited to stand on the scales with our baggage on check-in. The Beech 18 was so noisy that when we were offered food the attendant had to scream to be heard. We were so naïve we declined the offer because we didn’t realise it came with the ticket price.”
This flight established travelling as a significant part of Stevenson’s married life and the couple have now visited more than a quarter of the world’s countries.
“I talked about learning to fly for many years, and after my father passed away I realised that I had to act sooner rather than later.”
A flight back from Barra proved to be the final nudge that Stevenson needed.
“On a Loganair Beech 18 flight I got to sit beside the pilot and was hypnotised by the whole process. It had come full circle since that first fateful flight. I booked a course in France and learned to fly in three weeks.”
Since getting his pilot’s licence 25 years ago, Stevenson has flown in many countries, including Australia and America. Despite this, he believes Scotland has some of the world’s most interesting airfields.
“One of my favourite destinations is the Isle of Gigha, where you pay your landing fee at the hotel bar. When there weren’t Sunday ferries to Gigha, pilots would deliver the Sunday papers and have the fee waived.”
Stevenson has some advice for anyone wanting to learn to fly.
“Flying gives you a great sense of freedom. You choose the journey you want to make and when you want to go there. It opens up possibilities and contributes real adventure to your life. Stop talking about it and get out there.”
The Second World War hangars at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield have undergone a £3.6 million restoration and refurbishment and were unveiled on Good Friday 25 March 2016. The hangars house an array of world-class military, leisure and commercial aircraft engagingly presented alongside interactives and film. The stories of those who piloted, worked or flew in the aircraft are told through thought-provoking interviews and displays featuring uniforms, documents and photographs.
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