SK736 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 575 posts, RR: 0 Posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6500 times:
No, not that Skybus – the original Isles of Scilly Skybus! My partner and I were holidaying at my sister’s house in St Austell, Cornwall. I’d always wanted to visit the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous other small rocky islets 28 miles off Lands End - the most South Westerly point of the British Isles. In Winter there are just two ways of getting there – the British International Helicopters service from Penzance or the Isles of Scilly Skybus service from Newquay. As I’d never flown on a Twin Otter I decided this would be our mode of transport to the islands – but it’s certainly not cheap, costing £140 return (each!).
On a quiet day in February, there was nobody in the small terminal at NQY when we arrived. We each paid our £5 airport development fee at the automated machines then went to the check-in desk which opens about an hour before scheduled departure time. All baggage has to be checked-in as the Twin Otter has no room to store it in the cabin, and this was done quickly and efficiently by the cheery agent. Security was a breeze and in under two minutes we’d completed check-in and security and were in the small departure lounge which was as deserted as the landside area. I’d noticed on the printed manifest (computers apparently haven’t reached Skybus yet) that there were only three passengers on this flight and soon we were joined in the departure lounge by our travelling companion.
The cheery check-in agent then joined us in the departure lounge and asked us to go to the seating area where we were shown the safety briefing on video – this lasted just a couple of minutes. It was still 45 minutes before scheduled departure time but we were told that as everyone was here the Captain had decided to go! So off we went to our Twin Otter where we were greeted by the First Officer. After taking our seats (free seating on these services) he showed us how to operate the emergency exits before joining the Captain on the flight deck for their pre-flight checks. The flight deck door remained open throughout the flight so we were treated to a great view of the action at the sharp end!
Take-off was swift – we seemed to be rolling down the runway for just a few seconds before we were airborne – followed by the most thrilling flight I’ve ever experienced. The aircraft flew at just 1,500 feet along the spectacular North Cornwall coast and then onwards to St Mary’s, the largest of the islands and home to their only airport (although there is a heliport on the neighbouring island of Tresco). The approach to St Mary’s was stunning and we landed firmly on its undulating runway in a relatively strong crosswind. After engine shutdown we walked the 20 metres to the arrivals hall (a corridor!) where our bags were waiting for us. As the airport is only about a mile from the island’s capital, Hugh Town, we walked down to our hotel even though a bus was waiting for anyone who wanted it.
We spent a wonderful couple of days on St Mary’s, walking the entire coastal path (just 10 miles long) and enjoying the hospitality of the friendly locals. Alas, all too soon it was time to return to the real world.
I’d hoped to get on another of Skybus’ Twin Otters but it was the same one that brought us to the islands. The day of our departure was very windy, so when we arrived at the airport we were told there was only a 50% chance of getting off the island that day. All flights to Lands End were cancelled and the two remaining helicopter flights to Penzance were already full. So, we were relying on our aircraft (inbound from Exeter) being able to land and then the weather holding long enough for it to be able to take-off again. Fortunately, the little Twin Otter managed to get into St Mary’s and after another short safety video we were on our way to the aircraft, desperately trying to stay upright in the increasingly strong winds!
This time the flight was full (17 passengers) as it was accommodating some of the people who couldn’t get to Lands End. The Captain told us the weather at Newquay was deteriorating, so there was a chance we would have to divert to Exeter. The take-off was again thrilling – if very, very bumpy – and this time we flew at 3,000 feet, in cloud for almost the entire journey.
The Captain told us that he was hoping to get into Newquay as the weather had improved slightly, but if he couldn’t land at the first attempt we would be heading straight to Exeter. The approach into Newquay was the bumpiest (and scariest) I’ve ever experienced, but the skill of the pilots got us down safely. Most people on the flight looked terrified during the final approach (sideways for most of it) and incredibly relieved on a safe landing. All in all it was a great experience, although I suspect it’s much more enjoyable for most people in nicer weather than we had today!
Overall this was a great experience and one I highly recommend if you’re ever down in that part of the UK. In Summer there are frequent flights from Lands End (just 15 minutes to St Mary’s), making a day trip to the islands a realistic prospect. Give it a try sometime!
BAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 6287 times:
Wow, you're brave!! Interesting report to an excellent part of the country.
I've been to the Scillies once, but on the boat from Penzance...I swear they could sell that trip to Alton Towers as a white knuckle ride!
Shame you didn't include any pics of your own, but I know from experience that's not always possible. But I felt your pain/excitement nonetheless! There can't be many destinations where you're shown the safety demo before you board the aircraft!
The Scillies are a special and unique destination and anyone that gets the chance to go there should take that chance.
Thanks for the report.
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
Yeap it's very steep - that's the reason I have not flown it before, I could almost get to America for that price!
Quoting SK736 (Thread starter): The Captain told us the weather at Newquay was deteriorating, so there was a chance we would have to divert to Exeter. The take-off was again thrilling – if very, very bumpy – and this time we flew at 3,000 feet, in cloud for almost the entire journey.
I find it quite odd that they wouldn't chose PLH - I know they only do the occasional charter flight to the airport, but it would have been a darn sight nearer for the NQY pax to get back from if you had needed to divert. Was it perhaps because PLH was also shut, they are only 39 miles apart?
Very nice to read a report on IOS, would have been nice to add some pictures as it's a wonderfully scenic flight - not to mention a approach to the Scillies rather small runway.
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2905 posts, RR: 20
Reply 5, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5546 times:
Very nice - I've been to Cornwall/NQY several times, but so far I haven't taken the Skybus to the Scillys. I have to agree with the others, some pics of this amazing scenic flight would have been very welcome here, but I'm counting on 02hilliert to share his pics with us once he has returned from his Skybus ride.
Thanks for sharing your Scilly experiences! Regards, Alex.
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 12094 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5528 times:
Quoting Ndebele (Reply 5): I'm counting on 02hilliert to share his pics with us once he has returned from his Skybus ride.
I've done that route a few times on Air Southwest and each time we've flown over the sea for most of the way - which is a great shame. Hopefully the IOS flight won't, I'm flying it back in a few weeks and there's no way you'll prize the camera out of my hands, it's a part of the County which I know very well and where most of my family live now, so I want pictures!
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
SK736 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 575 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5457 times:
Quoting 02hilliert (Reply 2): What did you think of the comfort on board? nice seats? how loud?
A bit of a tight squeeze on the return flight, but perfectly comfortable for the length of the flight - and the proximity of the other passengers adds to the experience!
Quoting 02hilliert (Reply 2): Its a shame you couldn't get any pictures. I know you are not allowed luggage on board, but i have read that i can take a camera bag on board, and so i will definately be doing that.
I stupidly forgot to take my camera out of my bag before check-in so missed the opportunity to take photos (the other person on board happily snapped away for the whole of the flight). I did remember to take the camera on the return but sod's law dictated that there was nothing to take pictures of!