12 July 2011
Landing on Barra beach (provided the tide is out)
Brian Micklethwait

A friend recently journeyed to the Hebrides, for one of those team-bonding, business-building get-togethers.

She had an interesting journey.  If, like me, you like small airports, you’ll love Barra.  It’s a beach with a bungalow on it!  Well, a bit more than a bungalow, but not a lot more.

So, presumably you can only land when the tide’s out.


The schedule is still governed by the ebb and flow of the tide …

Here’s the plane she rode in on, on the beach, snapped with her iPhone:


It’s a British European de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, or so I presume.  I like these obscure planes you’ve maybe not heard of, that do so much of the quiet donkey work in the world’s out-of-the-way places, of which, I surmise, there are a very great many.

Here’s a video of the same (or an extremely similar) plane landing at Barra.

And here’s an iPhoto my friend took from inside her plane, of that bizarre propeller effect that you get with mobile phone photography of propellers:


It’s fun the first few times you see this.  Ah the romance of propellers.  It’s like there are still real steam trains everywhere, rather than just pretend ones for tourists and for weekend loonies to play with.

  1. The Twin Otter is for being really really good at landing on beaches, gravel, and other difficult runways, as well airports at high altitude. (I have flown on them in the Himalayas). de Havilland Canada produced them from 1965 to 1988, and ceased production. A company named Viking Air (also Canadian) was given the contract to produce spare parts for the many airlines operating the aircraft. Eventually, airlines explained to Viking that as well as spare parts, they would like to be able to buy entire aircraft, and so Viking actually put the plane back into production in 2007, and quite a few new ones have since been ordered and built.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on  15 July 2011 at 02:23 am

  2. The video shows the same airplane - G-BVVK

    Posted by Roger Ritter on  15 July 2011 at 10:59 pm

  3. http://www.usatoday.com/weather/resources/coldscience/2001-04-26-sp-doc-rescue.htm

    Also:  http://www.vikingair.com/content2.aspx?id=276


    Posted by J.M. Heinrichs on  16 July 2011 at 03:56 am

  4. Let me hazard a guess that there’s a floatplane version for landing on lakes in Canada, not to mention a ski version for landing on glaciers in Alaska?

    Posted by Alan Little on  18 July 2011 at 12:32 pm

  5. 1.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sENYJSNUOqM

    2.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9ZVzqPcU9E

    cool hmm


    Posted by J.M. Heinrichs on  18 July 2011 at 01:50 pm

  6. Thanks.

    I wonder if he could have used the crater wall as a kind of inverse ski jump for final braking, or was it steep enough that he would have just ploughed straight in?

    Posted by Alan Little on  18 July 2011 at 02:29 pm

  7. I must say I am highly delighted with all these comments, here and at Samizdata, where I also posted about this.


    I had no idea it was such an impressive airplane, and that it was both so old and so new, as it were.

    Blog and learn.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on  18 July 2011 at 02:47 pm

  8. 1. He would have plowed right in, except that Kenn Borak pilots try to not do things like that.
    2. Two fuselage lengths:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwMlgc1saHs

    3. Brian, they build them at Pat Bay, about 60 miles SE of home.


    Posted by J.M. Heinrichs on  19 July 2011 at 09:03 am

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