Sunday, August 23, 2009


What is so special about Captain Fresson is that he was one of the flying pioneers of the 20th century. I was captivated by an exhibition I recently saw on a visit to Tankerness House Museum in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands.

In the exhibition there is a bust of the Captain; this cast seemed to be more of a likeness of the last King, George VI who died in 1952. Apart from that, I was totally absorbed in all that was laid out to read and see, to feel and imagine.

There is a well-crafted monument to Captain Fresson outside the departures and arrivals hall at Inverness Airport, which, up to now, when I have had occasion to visit this regional airport, has not held any significance for me. From now on it will.

Captain Fresson had a remarkable trajectory into his flying life which supported his derring-do approach to his services career and his civilian flying. It was stuff straight out of a hero's note- book. He was inspirational. Where he led, others, when they could see the potential of his exploits, eventually followed his example.

Without the intrepid Captain, there would have been no flights to the North of Scotland. He pioneered them in 1933. Air mail deliveries were introduced to Inverness, then onward north to Wick, and yet further on to Kirkwall, which, as mentioned, is based in Orkney, out in the North Atlantic seas.

When it was particularly difficult to get medicines to one of the northern islands, Captain Fresson made the first medical flying mission. In view of its success and the social need, more such flying medical missions were undertaken.

When he died in 1963, Captain Fresson had been recognised for his pioneering work, being honoured with The Order of the British Empire (OBE). He was survived by his second wife, (his first wife died) a daughter, and his son.

There is a Trust which was set up to commemorate Captain Fresson's vision and pioneering spirit.

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