An 18-year-old pilot from Stornoway is reaching new heights after a historic Highland aviation charity provided funding to help send him soaring into his dream career.
Mark Morrison took to the skies for the first time on his 14th birthday and hasn’t looked back since – achieving his first solo flight just two years later.
He has just received a £1,990 grant from charity the Fresson Trust to further his career in the skies.
With more than 80 flying hours now under his belt, the teenager is aiming towards becoming a fully qualified commercial pilot by the time he is 21.
In a bid to gain an insight behind the scenes of his local airport, Mark has spent the last year working for airline Loganair collecting passenger baggage and waving passengers off on their travels.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
He says his time at the airport has helped him appreciate the wider spectrum surrounding his future role as pilot.
He said: “It’s a brilliant experience. I work outside most of the time, handling luggage and seeing flights off. But if they require me inside for check-in I will do that as well.
“It’s a brilliant experience as I get to see the other side of it and it builds a background.
“There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that as a pilot you are not really aware of and you kind of take it for granted it gets done. It’s good to appreciate that and know about it.
“I think it will help if and when I do become a pilot knowing what’s actually going on.”
The high-flyer already owns a private pilot licence after passing both his class one medical and achieving his Airport Transport Pilot Licence thanks to a generous grant from the Fresson Trust.
At Inverness Airport yesterday, Mark was gifted with a certificate and a book by members of the trust and Mark Fresson, grandson of Captain Ted Fresson.
He says receiving this grant has been a tremendous help. He added: “It’s been such a massive help. I am very grateful for the funding and for them, the advice I have got from them has been fantastic.”
Chris Birks, secretary of the Fresson Trust added: “It’s great to see someone so young know what they want to do and set themselves a career path.
“His motivation, his commitment and his aptitude I understand is very well regarded at the flying club as well so we are hoping we are assisting in setting a young man off on a good career.”
A century of training
The Fresson Trust was first established in memory of Captain Ernest Edmund Fresson OBE – 100 years after his birth.
Captain Fresson, known as Ted, was born in England on September 20, 1891 and remains in the history books as one of the greatest British pilots.
Eldest of four boys and two girls, he went on to train as an engineer with aspirations of becoming an aircraft pilot, leading him to sign on as a volunteer in WWI in 1914.
By 1918, he was training as a pilot for the Royal Flying Corps in Canada and went to China to work for his former firm at the end of the war.
By the 1930’s the young pilot saw the opportunity in the Highlands to start scheduled air services and proceeded to create his own company, Highland Airways Limited, as well as the first commercial UK air mail service.
In October 1933, Fresson operated the first commercial charter out of Aberdeen, carrying three salesmen to Shetland.
By May 7 1934 he began Aberdeen’s first scheduled service to Wick and Kirkwall, in turn becoming the trailblazer for linking up various alternate destinations including Inverness and Aberdeen with Shetland and Stornoway.
The Fresson Trust was set up to commemorate him on his achievements in aviation and distributes grants to individuals across the Highlands and Islands seeking to continue his legacy through a career in aviation.