What is so special about Captain Fresson is that he was one of the flying pioneers of the 20th century. I was captivated by an exhibition I recently saw on a visit to Tankerness House Museum in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands.

In the exhibition there is a bust of the Captain; this cast seemed to be more of a likeness of the last King, George VI who died in 1952. Apart from that, I was totally absorbed in all that was laid out to read and see, to feel and imagine.

There is a well-crafted monument to Captain Fresson outside the departures and arrivals hall at Inverness Airport, which, up to now, when I have had occasion to visit this regional airport, has not held any significance for me. From now on it will.

Captain Fresson had a remarkable trajectory into his flying life which supported his derring-do approach to his services career and his civilian flying. It was stuff straight out of a hero’s note- book. He was inspirational. Where he led, others, when they could see the potential of his exploits, eventually followed his example.

Without the intrepid Captain, there would have been no flights to the North of Scotland. He pioneered them in 1933. Air mail deliveries were introduced to Inverness, then onward north to Wick, and yet further on to Kirkwall, which, as mentioned, is based in Orkney, out in the North Atlantic seas.

When it was particularly difficult to get medicines to one of the northern islands, Captain Fresson made the first medical flying mission. In view of its success and the social need, more such flying medical missions were undertaken.

When he died in 1963, Captain Fresson had been recognised for his pioneering work, being honoured with The Order of the British Empire (OBE). He was survived by his second wife, (his first wife died) a daughter,and his son.

There is a Trust which was set up to commemorate Captain Fresson’s vision and pioneering spirit.



  1. I thought of you when I perused the artefacts and information at the exhibition.

    I don’t suppose all flying ‘exploits’ would have caught my attention as much as this story did. Out of undermining deeds of others came friendships, quite remarkable, and says a lot about the man.

    Usually aviation pioneers are flying a route or getting a machine up in the air. That already having been done, Capt. Fresson set about taking next steps that led to the developments outlined.

    His earlier life would certainly be interesting reading, also the period he spent in the Far East. There was just so much to absorb, so many facets to this character which formed him and informed what he did in all respects.

    I wonder what people such as Fresson, with their obsessive drive and energy, would be like to live with? 🙂

  2. It’s often exploits such as these, rather then the record breaking ones, that are far more interesting.
    People like Fresson are so often generally overlooked as what they did wasn’t, and isn’t, considered adventureous or heroic. That said their legacy is much more lasting and worthy.
    I suspect that living with anyone like that is difficult, but probably worthwhile for the right person. xx

  3. Your points are well made. These days who would think of the pioneering of things that we take for granted; with the advances that have been made, who would imagine and realise their importance in our daily lives. We don’t give it a thought………it’s there, very few query how it got there.

    Fresson found two ladies to live with, one who he outlived (by whom their daughter was born) and the second, who bore him a son, Richard, and she outlived him. Maybe they liked the frisson (no pun intended) of life in the fast lane.


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