Shortest Airline Flight
August 28, 2012 8:41 PM   Subscribe

The worlds shortest scheduled airline flight is from Westray Island in the Orkney Islands to the nearby Papa Westray Island. You can watch all two minutes of the flight.
posted by Confess, Fletch (67 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do they show this as the inflight movie?
posted by Mezentian at 8:45 PM on August 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


Does the pilot have to get landing clearance before takeoff clearance?
posted by zachlipton at 8:47 PM on August 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


Seems like a boat might be a more cost-effective option.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:52 PM on August 28, 2012


I wonder how much a ticket costs.
posted by xbonesgt at 8:53 PM on August 28, 2012


Is the -ay of the island names in the Norn language cognate with the Danish ø and Norwegien øy?
posted by Nomyte at 8:54 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


For anyone who is interested, it looks like it's £21 return on LoganAir.
posted by Mezentian at 8:55 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seems like a boat might be a more cost-effective option.

also, catapults!
posted by mannequito at 8:59 PM on August 28, 2012 [16 favorites]


I thought the first long thin field on Papa Westway was the airstrip. Would have shaved a good 30 seconds off the flight.
posted by thecjm at 8:59 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you still need to get to the airport an hour ahead of time?
posted by shecky57 at 8:59 PM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Zip line?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:01 PM on August 28, 2012


No, just 20 minutes.

I can't get enough of this.
posted by Mezentian at 9:01 PM on August 28, 2012


So it's a leg of the scheduled flight between Kirkwall and Papa Westray, not the entire flight itself and yes, several ferries run between the two islands daily. I've taken some weird flights before but never a 2-minute one.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:03 PM on August 28, 2012


I wonder how much a ticket costs.

As low as £8.50, one way, for a senior citizen.

Timetable and fares, in PDF. Oh, and sightseeing info for the Orkney islands, also in PDF.
posted by Revvy at 9:12 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since the takeoff and the landing are by FAR the most dangerous parts of a flight, this is easily the most hazardous airline route (by miles flown) in the world. Pity the poor brave Orkneyians.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:13 PM on August 28, 2012 [18 favorites]


You can see the entire route on Google maps. Takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to walk, including getting on and off a ferry.

Does the pilot have to get landing clearance before takeoff clearance?

If I'm not wrong, they actually ask for landing clearance immediately on take-off for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore flights; this is while ascending, even before you stabilize. This is a distance of about 400 km. (I distinctly heard the pilot speak with Singapore's ATC a few times while ascending from KLIA) So I won't be surprised if they do. :)

For anyone who is interested, it looks like it's £21 return on LoganAir.

... and about GBP 300-odd to reach the administrative capital, Kirkwall, from London (or was it Aberdeen? Can't remember) in winter. Apparently, the easiest way to go there is to reach Aberdeen and then take a ferry to Kirkwall. You then take the island-hopper flight from there; that touches down in all the rural airports in the islands. They also do a commemorative flight with a package with the local whisky in miniature. I checked last year, all mostly from memory.

They also have a fun street game for Christmas and Hogmanay in Kirkwall.
posted by the cydonian at 9:17 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apparently only six people have died on Loganair flights from six incidents since 1979.
posted by Mezentian at 9:20 PM on August 28, 2012


Can someone who knows planes better than I do explain why they bother gaining so much altitude?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:23 PM on August 28, 2012


Is this mainly a tourist thing?
posted by Bwithh at 9:23 PM on August 28, 2012


If I'm not wrong, they actually ask for landing clearance immediately on take-off for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore flights; this is while ascending, even before you stabilize. This is a distance of about 400 km. (I distinctly heard the pilot speak with Singapore's ATC a few times while ascending from KLIA) So I won't be surprised if they do. :)

I think this has more to do with the airspace region boundaries and the way in which the countries have different chunks of airspace assigned to them, but I don't know the details. In this case, I'm assuming these are uncontrolled airports given the lack of much in the way of developed infrastructure at the two fields.
posted by zachlipton at 9:25 PM on August 28, 2012


Neat. We took a similarly short flight between camps in the Masai Mara earlier this year. It was really strange to get up in the air and then come down quickly.
posted by kdar at 9:27 PM on August 28, 2012


Was everybody's favorite thing the shadow of the aircraft on the ground? Because that was my favorite thing.
posted by trip and a half at 9:32 PM on August 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


Are we there yet?
posted by scratch at 9:42 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's it! I'm turning this plane around.
posted by Mezentian at 9:44 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was fascinated by the propellor. Is it supposed to stop?
posted by taff at 10:06 PM on August 28, 2012


Can someone who knows planes better than I do explain why they bother gaining so much altitude?

Safety, mostly. In the event of engine failure, more altitude gives you more reaction time and a broader set of emergency landing spots to choose from: you have more time to try to re-start the engine, and, if that fails, a better chance of gliding to an obstruction-free piece of land.
posted by Dimpy at 10:09 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was fascinated by the propellor. Is it supposed to stop?

The propeller never stops spinning. It's the wagon-wheel effect.
posted by rmxwl at 10:10 PM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


The worlds shortest scheduled airline flight

Shortest flight that doesn't end in a crash. I recall when Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th street bridge in Washington DC in 1982 after taking off in winter weather from National Airport - a flight of about one minute. When the NTSB report on the crash was released indicating that the cause of the crash was ice on the flight surfaces resulting from pilot error (the pilot skipped de-icing), Howard Stern (who was on the air in DC) called the airline to ask if they were going to make this a regular stop on the schedule - and if there would be time for drinks to be served. And could he get ice in his drinks? He liked ice in his drink. Ice was very important to him, etc.
posted by three blind mice at 10:14 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Howard Stern sounds like a dick.
posted by Mezentian at 10:15 PM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I've had to take a OAK->SFO leg on a weird-ass flight during the dotcom boom though I can't remember the specifics. I know I had to go to San Jose once to catch a ticketed flight to SFO that was actually serviced by a bus when you showed up at the airport (SJC->SFO->JFK)
If you skipped the bug they would cancel you ticket.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:18 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, a single prop plane isn't what comes to mind when I hear "airline flight".

The shortest jet plane run I've heard of is the PrecisionAir 737 between Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar. The gate to gate time is 0:25, which I means about eighteen minutes in the air.

Oddly enough they run ten of them a day.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:20 PM on August 28, 2012


Friends of mine used the internet to book a trip from Vancouver to San Francisco, and then on to San Jose, Costa Rica. Unfortunately they clicked San Jose California. They realized their mistake before the flight, but had to pay several hundred dollars penalty to change what would have been a very short flight.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:22 PM on August 28, 2012


which I means about eighteen minutes in the air.

And what I means which I say!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:23 PM on August 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think this has more to do with the airspace region boundaries and the way in which the countries have different chunks of airspace assigned to them, but I don't know the details. In this case, I'm assuming these are uncontrolled airports given the lack of much in the way of developed infrastructure at the two fields.

That's fair, actually. Was just basically winging it based on this one odd-ball thing I once noticed. :)

Meanwhile, here's the full list of world's longest and shortest flights if anyone's interested.
posted by the cydonian at 10:56 PM on August 28, 2012


Scotland's other unusual scheduled flight is the Flybe to Barra airport. A tidal beach serves as the runway - video. Tickets about £126 from Glasgow.
posted by rongorongo at 10:56 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I recently had a connecting flight from Detroit to Cleveland. 20 minutes wheels up to wheels down.
posted by shecky57 at 11:16 PM on August 28, 2012


I often fly through Denver from Colorado Springs. Ranges from 15 to 35 minutes from take-off to landing.
posted by Isadorady at 11:45 PM on August 28, 2012


Isoadorady, you kind of hit me over the head with that comment. Watching the video, I couldn't help think that a surface transportation option would pay off in the long run, instead of spending the avgas. The feeling was remarkably similar to watching the dog leg on I-25 between Monument Hill and Larkspur. The ground under the straight shot is uneven and would require an elevated roadway, but every time I drive it, I wonder how soon that would be paid off against the fuel costs of the arc of headlights that Pythagoras is costing us.
posted by 7segment at 1:19 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


We considered doing this on our visit to Orkney, but decided on ferries instead. Ferry being shorthand for "recycled WWII landing craft" it seems. Fascinatiing place.
posted by hardcode at 1:28 AM on August 29, 2012


sodium lights the horizon: Can someone who knows planes better than I do explain why they bother gaining so much altitude?

I'm only a sim pilot, but it looks like they're climbing to a few hundred feet, not exactly dizzying altitudes. Height is safety; the higher a plane is, the farther it can glide if it has engine trouble. If you're right down on the deck, and have even a momentary loss of engine power, particularly over water, you're probably dead.

Also, the pilot likely wants to see where he or she is going.

Another thought: landing is easier from a little higher up, as you can throttle back your engines and just sort of float into the runway at a little more than stall speed. You 'flare' just short of the ground, bringing the nose up. If you do it right, the plane stalls, drops gently onto the runway, and doesn't take off again.

If you're coming in low, at normal powered-flight speed, it's much harder to get this correct -- you're pretty likely to come in too fast, and go bouncing along the runway, trying to bleed enough speed to start braking before you run out of pavement. Passengers tend to be annoyed at the bouncing, and they can get downright pissy if you kill them by going off the runway.
posted by Malor at 1:48 AM on August 29, 2012


The in-flight merchandising must be hilarious, "twiglet, sip-of-coffee, souvenir-cufflinks, book-a-hire-car-with-our-preferred-partners? please-fast-your-seat-belts". The passengers must be people doing it just to say they've done it.
posted by epo at 1:51 AM on August 29, 2012


You do get a free miniature of Highland Park, an Orkney malt. But no time to drink it.
posted by Devonian at 2:29 AM on August 29, 2012


This will be great for frequent flier milage runs. Only ~2000 trips at two minutes each to reach diamond level!
posted by zippy at 3:24 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very cool. Now back to Pocket Planes.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:29 AM on August 29, 2012


Is the -ay of the island names in the Norn language cognate with the Danish ø and Norwegien øy?

Westray has its own variant of Orcadian dialect, and there are definite Nordic features in the language spoken there. It's the island where other Orcadians say the people "talk funny."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:36 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having lived for half a decade on a Scottish island (population: 130), plane services are pretty vital for bringing in post, goods and newspapers, and providing an option for getting to the mainland when the ferry is stuck at port.

In this case, it's also useful for taking the kids to school.
posted by Wordshore at 4:36 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Refreshments on the flight: The attendant walks down the aisle while waving a can of Schweppes in the air.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:40 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post Confess, Fletch. How wonderful and weird. I've just spent about 40mins mapzooming around the accessible N.Scotland region.
posted by peacay at 4:55 AM on August 29, 2012


I totally need to move to an accessible Scottish area.
Raise a few sheep, maybe some hairy coos.

Not a word of a lie, but that has been my dream since childhood.
posted by Mezentian at 5:19 AM on August 29, 2012


The worlds shortest scheduled airline flight
Shortest flight that doesn't end in a crash...
I dare say that nobody has yet managed to schedule a flight which ends in a crash. Although I am ready to be put right.
posted by Jehan at 5:46 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think you guys are maybe overdoing it a bit on the inflight meal. It should be one M&M, in a tiny, clear plastic food bag.
posted by Malor at 5:55 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


So short, you can let a couple of extra passengers grab onto the wings if you overbook.
posted by scose at 6:50 AM on August 29, 2012


I remember as a kid taking the Honolulu-to-Maui flight, which took around 15 minutes or so all told. (According to The Cydonian's link, it's the busiest route in the world, by number of scheduled flights.)
posted by Navelgazer at 7:11 AM on August 29, 2012


I dare say that nobody has yet managed to schedule a flight which ends in a crash. Although I am ready to be put right.

Japanese kamikazes?
posted by Malor at 7:15 AM on August 29, 2012


I took Stewart Island Flights once between Invercargill and Stewart Island in New Zealand. It's about 45 miles, maybe 20 minutes in their Britten-Norman Islander. A capable plane, if kinda ugly. There's a ferry crossing too but the Foveaux Strait has notoriously rough seas; even the locals don't make light of the seasickness. Much nicer by air.
posted by Nelson at 7:18 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this-it's always been one of my goals to take this flight. And to see the northernmost house in Britain.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:20 AM on August 29, 2012


Has anyone ever had their luggage lost on this flight?
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 7:53 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Japanese kamikazes?
Point taken.
posted by Jehan at 8:28 AM on August 29, 2012


I totally need to move to an accessible Scottish area.
Raise a few sheep, maybe some hairy coos.


That's HEELAND coos!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:28 AM on August 29, 2012


a single prop plane isn't what comes to mind when I hear "airline flight".

It's a twin prop - probably the Britten Norman Islander, seats 8.

Props are ideal for short routes - much more fuel efficient than jets and given the distances involved, not much slower.
posted by IanMorr at 9:39 AM on August 29, 2012


That's HEELAND coos!

That's HEILAN' coos!
posted by rory at 9:49 AM on August 29, 2012


IanMorr: If you're referring to the video in the OP, it's a single-prop plane, typical front-mounted. Just look at the shadow as the plane takes off.
posted by Malor at 11:30 AM on August 29, 2012


Nomyte, yes I believe it is -- although I'm having a hard time tracking down a definitive citation, it seems like a pretty safe conclusion. More on Orkney placenames from the same site you already linked to, here.

I watched a friend depart Westray on this flight. My favorite part was the way the cows all came out and circled around the shed airport to see the plane off.

And the plural of coo is kye.
posted by ootandaboot at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, then it's not the regular Loganair flight.
posted by IanMorr at 11:53 AM on August 29, 2012


I believe this flight would be just long enough for me to finish my customary 10 take-off Hail Marys, slug down a quick gin and tonic, and still have my ears fucked up for days afterward. But not long enough to successfully wrench open the peanut packet.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:49 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd think a slingshot-launched glider would be better here.
posted by zippy at 3:54 PM on August 29, 2012


Threshold to threshold time = 83 seconds
Distance = 1.58 miles
Average speed = 101 fps = 69 mph

If they put a RyanAir A320 on the route, they could probably cut that down to 20 seconds, tops.
posted by crapmatic at 5:45 AM on August 30, 2012


I'm going to go on a limb and guess the runways aren't suitable for an A320.
posted by Mezentian at 6:41 AM on August 31, 2012


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