In the world of aviation, where pilots navigate vast oceans and cross continents in hours, there exists a unique and remarkable anomaly – the shortest flight in the world. Clocking in at a mere 57 seconds, this flight covers a distance that most people would consider a leisurely stroll.
Loganair’s Guinness World Record
On this day in 1967: The world’s shortest commercial flight route started between two Orkney Islands, Westray & Papa Westray. The Loganair flight covers a distance of only 1.7 miles (about the length of the runway at Edinburgh Airport) and it can be completed in under a minute! pic.twitter.com/FH2Pnlah39
— Being Scottish (@BeingScots) September 13, 2020
Two of the islands, Westray and Papa Westray, are separated by a narrow stretch of the sea known as the Westray Sound. The distance between the two islands is minuscule – a mere 1.7 miles or roughly 2.7 kilometres. This short stretch of water has made them home to one of the world’s most peculiar flight routes. The journey begins on the Orkney Islands, a picturesque archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland.
The honour of operating the world’s shortest flight goes to Loganair, a Scottish regional airline. The journey takes place between two small airstrips, Westray Airport and Papa Westray Airport.
The flights are served by two eight-seater Britten-Norman Islanders. While the flight takes an average of one and a half minutes, making it the world’s shortest scheduled route – the quickest time in the air is 57 seconds in the air “in a favourable wind,” according to the airline.
Flights on this route began in 1967 and span a distance of 2.7 km. Papa Westray, which has a population of about 90 people, also boasts about 60 archaeological sites. As a result, the majority of passengers travelling to Papa Westray are teachers, students and medical personnel.
The Shortest Flight Experience: A Whirlwind Tour
The entire experience of this brief flight is unique, to say the least. Loganair operates this flight multiple times a day, and it’s an integral part of the islands’ transportation infrastructure. The flight operates primarily for the convenience of the local population, allowing them to connect between the two islands without the need for a lengthy boat trip.
It’s not uncommon for residents to use this flight to travel for work, school, or leisure. The frequency and regularity of the flights underline the importance of this short yet vital connection in the daily lives of the island’s inhabitants.
Aviation enthusiasts, particularly those who secure the first of the four rows of passenger seats, will appreciate the opportunity to observe a pilot at work. But you don’t get to choose your seat. Weight distribution around the aeroplane is the basis for allocation.
According to an article by Business Insider, islanders use the service, which costs £36 for a day return or £45 for a sightseeing fare.
Additionally, the flight’s short duration benefits the environment. Short flights, even when conducted by small planes, generate lower carbon emissions per passenger than longer ones. Given the global emphasis on lowering aviation’s environmental impact, it’s worth emphasising that this modest flight contributes to that goal.
For those fortunate enough to take this flight, it’s not about the in-flight experience; it’s about the destination, the communities it connects, and the sense of wonder that comes from taking part in a Guinness World Record. So, when are you planning for your shortest 57-second flight?
Cover image credits: Instagram/Loganair
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