The famous route between two Orkney islands, which takes less than two minutes from take off to touch down, yesterday welcomed its millionth passenger.
The service between Westray and Papa Westray has long occupied a quirky place in international aviation history, with the island hop recognised by the Guinness Book of Records on account of its brevity.
With an eight-seater Britten Norman Islander aircraft and only a handful of flights a day, the service is regarded as a lifeline journey for school pupils and NHS patients.
And on the cusp of its fiftieth anniversary, the Loganair-operated service reached the milestone as it began its winter timetable.
For the lucky passenger, Anne Rendall, the occasion was markedly different to the estimated 10,000 trips she has taken on the 1.7 mile-long crossing.
Instead of being given a routine safety demonstration, she was presented with a bouquet by the pilot, native Orcadian, Captain Alex Rendall, who is no relation.
Ms Rendall, who works for Royal Bank of Scotland, is a frequent flyer on the route, visiting island communities across Orkney and tending to their banking requirements.
She said: “It is fantastic to have become Loganair’s ‘millionaire’.
“Our service is crucial for so many individuals and businesses in the Islands and thanks to Loganair we can make it a reliable and regular service for our customers, helping us serve more communities than any other bank.
“Loganair’s service has become part of the fabric of Island life and the Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to have helped celebrate this milestone.”
Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s managing director, said: “The route is a jewel in our network and known across the world. However, despite its fame, it’s an essential lifeline service for the people of Orkney, connecting the individual islands via a convenient air link.
“It’s used by teachers, doctors, policemen and school pupils, helping them to go about their daily routines with ease and simplicity.
“We’ve been operating the service on behalf of the Orkney Island Council for 49 years, with our eight-seater aircraft a stable fixture above the Orcadian skies during the time.”
He added: “I’d also like to congratulate Alex for being promoted to captain of the Britten Norman aircraft, while thanking Anne as one of the airline’s most frequent passengers.”
The official duration of the route, which has operated since 1967, is two minutes, but with a favourable headwind, it can take just 47 seconds to complete.
The crossing is so short that, on clear days, passengers can see the windsock at their destination island while sitting on the plane waiting to depart from the other isle.
The crossing is part of the Orkney Inter-Isles Air Service, a Public Service Obligation contract, which departs from Kirkwall on the main island and connects the communities of Eday, Stronsay, Sanday, North Ronaldsay, Westray and Papa Westray.