Yesterday saw the sad end of the helicopter route between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland. A crowd of islanders and visitors gathered at Tresco Heliport to wave off the final departure. With its last Tresco passengers on board, the Sikorsky S-61 hovered in front of the gathering of well-wishers, slowly dipping its nose in salute. Then, with a roar, Foxtrot Juliet took to the air, gracing us with a farewell flypast before disappearing into the wintery evening sky.
Some tears were shed amongst the crowd, for the islands have been fortunate to benefit from this almost unique scheduled service for nearly fifty years. The first direct flight to Tresco landed in April 1983 and it soon became a fixture in the life of our island, for locals and visitors alike.
Many of us, over the years on Tresco, have been involved closely with the running of Tresco Heliport, either as staff, firemen or the servicing of the fire engine. All of us have enjoyed the luxury of our own helicopter service. Our particular thoughts go to those at Tresco Heliport, St Mary’s Airport and Penzance Heliport, whose lives have been irrevocably changed by the closure of the route.
With the sadness, there must also be an eye on the future and it is with some relief that the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company and Skybus are at hand to step up their service to the islands. Residents and visitors will be able to make use of the new arrangement between Skybus, Island Taxis and Bryher Boats, which will make the process of coming to Tresco, both comprehensive and seamless. Further information is available here.
For now, however, it is the time to say goodbye to the helicopter and a big thank you and best wishes to our heliport team.