Simanaitis Says

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WRY/PPW—WELCOME TO PAPA

THE SIX LETTERS WRY/PPW (and PPW/WRY) identify the world’s shortest commercial flights, Loganair’s hops in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. These flights are between Westray (in airport lingo, WRY) and its neighbor Papa Westray (PPW).

And close neighbors they are. From takeoff to landing, the flight distance is only 1.7 miles. To put this in perspective, each runway at London Heathrow is greater in length.

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Papa Westray to Westray. This and other images from amusingplanet.com.

This isn’t the only way to get from the one island to the other. There are also ferry services, one, for passengers only, taking 25 minutes; the other capable of ferrying automobiles in 40 minutes. Check out papawestray.co.uk for a video of the larger ferry performing an artful parallel parking maneuver at the pier.

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Orkney ferries at Papa Westray pier. Image from papawestray.co.uk.

There are twice-daily Loganair flights connecting the two islands directly, with these originating and ending in Kirkwall, Mainland Orkney, the largest town and capital of the Orkney Islands.

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The Orkneyinga Saga recounts the history of the region for the four centuries prior to its publication, around 1230.

The 13th-century Orkneyinga Saga cites Kirkwall as the home of the Earl of Orkney in 1046, a title then dating back more than 100 years. Today, Kirkwall has a population of around 9000 people and, with ferry service and airport, is the Orkneys’ transportation hub. Kirkwall is about 525 air miles north of London, 28 miles south of Westray and Papa Westray.

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The Orkney Islands. Image from Ordinance Survey Crown copyright.

Loganair’s fleet includes Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders. These high-wing twin-turboprop craft are renowned for their STOL (short takeoff/landing) characteristics. An Islander seats as many as nine passengers, including one next to the pilot.

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Loganair Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander.

Loganair rightly terms itself Scotland’s Airline. Its Orkney Inter-Isles Air Services have two timetables: Winter from late October to late February, and Summer the rest of the year. Inter-island one-way fares start at £17 (these days, around $23), for Senior Citizens £8.50; Island Saver £21 round trip.

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Loganair’s Inter-Isles Air Services for summer 2016.

For instance, Thursday’s Loganair Flight 343 departs Westray at 9:49 a.m. and reaches Papa Westray at 9:51. LM348 leaves Papa Westray at 16:51 (4:51 p.m.) and lands at Westray two minutes later.

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The terminal at Papa Westray Airport.

Depending on winds and perhaps a pilot’s whim, the flight has been accomplished in considerably less than two minutes. A current record is cited at 47 seconds.

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This YouTube shows an entire flight from Westray to Papa Westray on a beautiful Orkney afternoon.

The Orkneys are in the northern extremities of Scotland, so fair weather is never a certainty. The airline states, “If flights are cancelled or delayed, Loganair cannot accept any liability for loss or extra costs incurred as a result. We strongly recommend that passengers hold adequate travel insurance with cover for such events.”

You may qualify for the £15 round-trip Excursion fare to Papa Westray: “A one-night minimum stay is required, maximum stay three months.”

Who knows; the Orkneys have been attracting folks for years. A Neolithic farmstead on Papa Westray dates from 3500 B.C. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016

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