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De Havilland Rapide over Sandaig

Photograph of a de Havilland Rapide over Sandaig.


Courtesy of Mr Donald MacKinnon

The first commercial flights from Renfrew Airport began in 1933 to Campbeltown and Islay. The following year a 29 year old businessman, George Nicholson from County Durham, set up Northern and Scottish Airways to take over these routes and develop others.

In October 1935, Nicholson was flown by his chief pilot, David Barclay, on a reconnaissance trip to Tiree. Islanders were woken early as he flew for some time low over the island, landing at 6 a.m. on An Tràigh Mhòr, the beach at Gott Bay. In May 1936, Colin MacPhail was appointed Northern and Scottish Airways local manager.

On 1st July 1936 David Barclay flew the first commercial flight to Tiree via Islay and landed on the Reef in a De Havilland Rapide, a fabric-covered twin engine biplane that could carry eight passengers.

Black and white photograph of a de Havilland Rapide over Sandaig after World War II.

De Havilland Rapide over Sandaig after World War II. The `X` off shore on the right marks the spot where the Sturdy went down.