Bronze statue to be unveiled to mark Sumburgh Airport’s 75th anniversary
The 75th anniversary of Sumburgh Airport falls this year and to mark the occasion a special bronze statue is to be unveiled on 3rd June.
The airport was opened on that date in 1936 after plans were laid out by Captain Ernest Edmund Fresson OBE (1891-1963), who also flew the inaugural flight from Aberdeen in a De Havilland Dragon Rapide.
To commemorate the airport and pay tribute to Captain Fresson, a bronze model of a De Havilland Dragon Rapide is to be erected during the anniversary celebrations.
Chairman of the Fresson Trust, HIAL chief executive Grenville Johnston, told a meeting of the Sumburgh Airport Consultative Committee about the plans this week.
As a result, the consultative committee would like to hear from anyone who may have worked at the airport during the time of Capt Fresson or who has any anecdotal stories.
Mr Johnston said: “It’s a great story and a great event and I think we should mark it.”
An important figure in British aviation history, Capt Fresson began his career when he volunteered for World War I after training as an engineer, and in 1918 he began his training with the Royal Flying Corps in Canada.
After the war ended, he returned to his work as an engineer in China, but continued to fly when he could before leaving for Britain in 1927.
During the early 1930s he began flying in the Highlands and Islands, establishing many routes which continue to be used.
He set up an airline, Highland Airways Limited, and, owing to his willingness to fly in almost any weather, soon landed contracts to fly the mail up to Orkney and Shetland.
The routes had a major impact on life in the isles and meant, for example, that islanders could get mail and newspapers on the same day as mainland Britain as well as access to emergency medical treatment.
Capt Fresson continued to fly charters up until his death in 1963. His memoir, Air Road to the Isles, continues to be a popular read for aviation history fans.
Members of the public with any relevant information or stories are welcome to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.