Loganair pilots ‘honoured’ to be flying Olympic flame to isles
For Dave Armour-Rubery, Sunday’s Olympic torch relay in Lerwick represents a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
But that’s not because he has been nominated a torchbearer for the event. Rather, the 36-year-old captain will be flying as part of a two-crew team bringing the flame and over 60 Olympic dignitaries to the isles.
The experienced pilot, who has held a pilot’s licence since he was 18, said he was “very honoured” to be carrying out the important role in the run-up to the London games.
“It’s fantastic. For me and my crew it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is the first time I’ve ever been associated with anything this unusual.”
The fleet manager for Loganair’s Saab 340 aircrafts will be flying one of two planes due to land at Sumburgh Airport at around 12.30pm on Sunday. One of aircraft will be carrying the torch and flame, along with the associated security personnel, while the second plane will transport 64 LOCOG representatives and VIPs.
Specially-commissioned “Davey-lamps” are being used to carry the flame as it flies between its island destinations.
Sunday’s flight will take off from Inverness and stop off at Orkney before continuing up to Shetland.
From there the flame will be “transferred” on to the torch, before the day’s events get underway.
The captain, and fellow pilot, Orkney man David Miller, will each take turns at flying the torch.
Flying with a lit flame onboard may not seem like the safest thing in the world to do. The captain said special permission was needed from the Civil Aviation Authority.
The flights have been chartered by BA, but the crews are delighted that the major airline had shown such confidence in Loganair.
They have been “monitoring” the weather forecasts with interest. Expect it to be overcast on Sunday, with winds – thankfully, not that strong – coming from the north-east.
So are they daunted by the task that lies ahead?
“Not in terms of flying with a flame because we’ve done everything we possibly could to make it as safe as possible. But in terms of what it symbolises and the number of people who will be watching means it’s quite a big responsibility.”
Following its arrival the flame will be taken to the Clickimin athletics track in Lerwick.
Retired councillor John Nicolson will be the first of torchbearers to each carry the flame approximately 300 metres through the streets, when the relay gets underway shortly before 2pm.
The torch will be carried around the town, travelling at around 4mph, before arriving back at the Clickimin Athletics track at approximately half past three.
In a romantic twist, Olympic organisers have named the act of passing the flame from one torchbearer to the next a “kiss”.
One of the main vantage points for keen observers is likely to be the Clickimin Broch, where the Up-Helly-A’ jarl squad will create a guard of honour to welcome the flame.
From there it will be taken by torchbearer Matthew Cox across the loch in the Vaila Mae, flanked by two Shetland yoals.
Faye Richardson will be the last to carry the torch back to the athletic track at the Clickimin and will light the Olympic cauldron.
The torch is then expected to be taken back to Sumburgh onboard the coastguard rescue helicopter.
Expect there to be some disruption on the roads. Police will be operating a “rolling closure” around the 12-vehicle core convoy which will accompany the relay. The route passes through many of Lerwick’s streets and motorists are being asked to look out for parking restrictions, especially near to junctions.