First powered flight in the Highlands

The 31st Gathering of the Strathpeffer Highland Games took place on the 24th August 1912. The weather was on its best behaviour and the attendance was the largest seen at the Spa for many a year. Never was the grandstand so packed, and never before had so many vehicles been seen on the grounds at one time. The chief attraction of the day was the opportunity to witness the first flight of an aircraft in the Highlands by Mr B. C. Hucks in his Firefly aeroplane. Don Forbes had kindly placed a field at Achterneed Farm at Mr Hucks' disposal. The shape of the machine was that of a large dragonfly with extended wings. The 70hp Gnome Dynamos were located in the head of the machine. In front was a wooden propellor, which in motion made 1,200 revolutions a minute. The monoplane, which could carry a passenger in addition to the pilot, weighed 900 lbs. It had in front two wheels with pneumatic tyres, somewhat smaller than those of a bicycle. Before take-off, six men held the machine back after the mechanic had started the engine. At a signal the men let go and the machine went forward at a great speed for about 70 yards. Suddenly it took to the air and rose in the teeth of the wind, making towards Knockfarrel, which was covered with people desirous of getting a better view. Mr Hucks flew over the Games field, and then made for Conon and Muir of Ord, before following the firth as far as Culbokie and returning by Dingwall to Strathpeffer. The flight had lasted half an hour and was, to the onlookers, a wonderful achievement.