It may have been regarded as a flying visit by some, but a representative from the Air Training Corps (ATC) was in the isles this week as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations.
Wing commander Christine Copsey arrived at the local RAFA premises in Charlotte Street on Wednesday.
She was taking part in a John o’ Groats to Land’s End torch relay event, and brought an Olympic-style beacon to the local RAFA premises.
The torch set off from John o’ Groats on Tuesday, but was being brought to the Northern Isles before embarking on its long journey south, where it is due to reach Land’s End in August.
Wing cmdr Copsey first took the torch to Orkney to visit a newly formed unit. Shetland has no ATC of its own, but it organisers did not want to miss out on the chance to visit the country’s most northerly RAFA branch.
“It’s the 75th anniversary of the Air Training Corps. We are having a relay baton that started in John o’ Groats yesterday and is going round the country visiting as many Air Cadet Units as it possibly can,” she said.
“It’s going to be at [RAF] Cranwell on 13th August because we’ve got a big parade there, and then it ends up at Land’s End towards the end of August.
“It’s a celebration of the organisation, and it will hopefully raise the profile of the organisation. Because a lot of people do not realise that the organisation exists, even when there is a unit in the town.”
Chairman of the local RAFA branch, Tom Bulley, said he was delighted by the visit.
“We’re pleased they came up to RAFA’s most northerly branch. It’s just a shame we don’t have an ATC branch here,” he said.
The ATC was first established on 5th February 1941, when it was launched as a training organisation.
These days it operates as an RAF-sponsored youth and development organisation, with a primary interest in aviation.
Across the UK there are around 34,000 cadets, with 2,700 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Wing cmdr Copsey and the baton were brought to Shetland from Inverness by Loganair/Flybe on Loganair Saab 340 aircraft. After leaving Sumburgh they were taken back to Inverness before travelling onwards to Stornoway.
The torch relay started at John O’Groats and also visited Dingwall, Loch Ness, Spean Bridge, Aviemore, stopping at various memorials along the way.
Squadron Leader Andy Dobson said: “We’d like to extend our thanks for Loganair for playing a part in this incredible journey.
It has taken years of planning to co-ordinate each stage of the tour and it’s great to be finally under way. The ATC is an organisation with such a fantastic history and we hope to share some of this with people along the way.”
Loganair flight operations director Andy Thornton added: “We’re proud to support such an esteemed organisation which is undertaking a tremendous feat.
“Loganair currently employs more than 180 pilots many of who are former cadets themselves – including myself.
“Good luck to everyone taking part and I look forward to watching the challenge progress.”