1 EAGLETON NOTES: I Do It All The Time

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I Do It All The Time


In fact I've done it for 40 years. The journey between Stornoway and Glasgow used to be quite a pleasant affair. Air travel was back 'in those days'. Now it's a trial beset by security checks and long periods hanging around because of the time needed to ensure that one is at the departure gate in good time having negotiated all the obstacles to ensure secure travel.

When I first came to Stornoway in the '70s it was a case of turning up at the airport with your ticket some time before the plane's door had been closed (and for some people after it had been closed), having a chat to the British Airways staff and enjoying the trip with it's appropriate refreshments on the hour-long journey. On one occasion I was even driven out onto the taxiway in a police car as the plane (a Loganair Twin Otter) delayed its take-off.

Stornoway airport was little more than a few portacabins in those heady days. I've tried to find some photographs on the internet of the airport in the '70s but so far without success. I wonder if I ever took any. Since I wrote that I have found this on the internet but I cannot find the copyright holder so if I'm infringing a copyright please let me know and I'll either acknowledge it or remove the photo. The picture is older than the '70s but the building is the same as it was when I came to the Island. The buildings behind the terminal building were Meteorological Office buildings. Stornoway Airport was also home to an RAF station.


The planes used were Vickers Viscounts and they were really good to fly in. 


On one occasion the Captain (I can even remember his name) decided that it was such a beautiful summer day he would show us Fingal's Cave and took the plane right down to give us all a good look. He did issue the safety warning though for "those on the starboard side - that is the right hand side - not to all rush over to the port side to have a look or we'd tip the plane over." I suspect that was 'unacceptable' behaviour 35 years ago but I hate to think what the consequences would be these days. Anyway we all enjoyed it.

I can recall when 'security' was first introduced and bags were searched for the first time. Usually for those who were regular travellers well known to the staff the security went something like "Good morning Mr Edwards. Off to Glasgow again? On you go." The idea of peering into one's briefcase just didn't enter into it. We knew many of the pilots and the cabin staff too.

Ah those were the days my friend. We thought they'd never end. But they did. Oh how they did. 

Now Stornoway has a superb airport with security greater than I've encountered anywhere else in the world (including LA!) and the flying experience is just something to be endured.


I found this on the internet too but I'm assuming my brother will allow me to use it!

24 comments:

  1. I know what you mean. Sometimes it's hard even to remember what it was like before 9/11 - which I think was the start of all this, if my memory serves? ??

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    1. I think nominal security started before 9/11 but it certainly started in earnest after that Jenny.

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  2. Isn't it funny how airport security measures vary so much from airport to airport? Maybe not funny but concerning. I guess the security is tight at Stornoway because, according to my sources, The Islamic State are planning to turn Lewis and Harris into their northernmost caliphate. No wonder you are fleeing to the land of the long white cloud.

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    1. YP I'm not quite sure why security at Stornoway is so strict. Having said that I think what used to get many people was the way in which it was done. In 2009 I travelled back and forward to Glasgow every weekend for 9 weeks. On every occasion my bag was disected in minute detail. Even my personal papers were gone through until I made it very clear that confidential papers were not to be searched unless they could show good reason as to why they should. They didn't try again but I think I was a marked man!

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  3. It is sad how things have changed and not for the better. Unfortunately the need for safety checks is paramount nowadays which can add so much stress, bother and waiting to the journey time.

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    1. Yes Serenata. I'm wondering whether things will have changed when I get back to NZ.

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  4. I've not not been in the air since the late 1970s... I'd feel quite lost just trying to pack a bag for air travel now, not having a clue what one is allowed to bring aboard or not!

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    1. Monica you would be astonished. Some places even insist on lipstick and so on being removed. At the very least they have to be shown separately.

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  5. Airport security is nothing more than capitulation to terrorism. I can't remember anything being checked when the IRA were being naughty.

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    1. I think, Adrian, that airport security did start when the IRA were particularly active but of course it was nothink like it is now.

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  6. It is nonsense to me, it is a little bit scary, and it really tries your patience to be at any airport and to fly to any destination. But, if you wanta' go there (wherever!) and don't want or can't have a road trip in a car or van.....well, you are kinda' stuck and have to put up with the enormous hassle!

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    1. Mrs Thyme you hit the nail on the head and I certainly don't want to go to New Zealand by land and sea!

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  7. I recall when friends and family could go right up to the waiting area and wait with you till you boarded the plane and they could wait in a similar area when you returned. Now that area is past security checkpoints so they can't wait with you. Ugh.

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    1. Exactly Terra the children used to rush onto the apron to meet me. Halcyon Days.

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  8. The old DC3? what an airplane! I spent many hours on it in the a the 60's. The Viscount was also a very nice ride. You're right it was so much better without all the security checks.

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  9. I remember flying into Palma Majorca when the airport had no more than a couple of corrugated iron sheds. I imagine it's very different now.

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  10. While I do understand the need for a certain level of security, I find the whole "lipsticks out" approach well over the top. Also, how come that in spite of all these measures being in place, we still hear of incidents when someone managed to get a weapon of some form aboard a plane?

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    1. I think the truth is Meike if that someone really wants to defeat the system they will always find a way...eventually.

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  11. An interesting post, Graham. How things have changed these days.

    Back in early 1987 I flew from Cairns across to Perth...it was supposed to be the first direct flight from Cairns to Perth, but we did have a couple of stops along the way...but that's another story. During the flight the Captain, purposely, flew low, as well...which was wonderful...particularly flying over the Gulf Country of north-west Queensland, and then down through the Northern Territory to Alice Springs. Seeing the MacDonnell Ranges late in the afternoon as the sun was beginning its descent brought tears to my eyes. The vista and the colours proved the paintings by the late Albert Namatjira, the acclaimed Aboriginal artist, were true. His colours on his canvases weren't a lie.

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    1. What a wonderful journey to make Lee. In 1999 when I was in WA I decided that when I finally retired I would take 6 months out and drive round Australia. As it happened life intervened and I went to live a half life in Kiwiland. There is a tremendous compuslion though with the vastness of your country and one day..........

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  12. So that's how you got to see Fingal's Cave!! What a nice pilot.
    The stress of air travel these days always makes me wonder if it's worth it....so much imposition of our bodies and personal space....travel will never be like it was in the good old days.

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    1. Sometimes Virginia I think it isn't worth it and within Eurpope now I tend to drive however long the distance. Unfortunatly when it comes to the Antipodes I have no choice but to fly.

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