“At what altitude did you have your baby?” National Museum of Flight seeks mothers who gave birth midflight

By Edward Lowton | 16 June 2015

The National Museum of Flight is looking to interview mothers who gave birth in-flight on Scottish air ambulances between 1967-2006

Photo of an aircraft in snow with blue sky and people
Loganair Britten-Norman Islander at Fair Isle airstrip© Dave Wheeler
For almost 40 years, Scotland’s air ambulance service ferried expectant mothers to mainland maternity wards, but 22 babies – including one set of twins - couldn't wait for landing and were born mid-flight.

To mark each birth, Scottish airline Loganair, who still hold the record holders for inflight births, presented a silver quaich or drinking cup to the babies born aboard their aircraft, each inscribed with the altitude at which they entered the world.

Loganair's first such birth was Katy Feguson Leynair Deven, born August 2 1973 over Kirkwall. Another baby, Johnathan Philip Logan Ayres, was born at 2,000 feet over Houston on January 6 1982, one of three such deliveries within space of 48 hours.

Now the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune is seeking to interview mothers who gave birth aboard air ambulances serving remote Scottish island communities.
As part of a major redevelopment project the museum is repainting its Britten-Norman Islander in the colours of an aircraft operated by the Scottish Air Ambulance Service in recognition of the service’s contribution to Scottish life.

“The Britten-Norman Islander air ambulance offered a vital service for island communities in Scotland and we’re interested to learn more about the experiences of expectant mothers who travelled on these small aircraft,” says Mary Ferguson, the museum’s Community Engagement Officer.

Britten-Norman Islanders were used by Loganair from 1967 until 2006 for an air ambulance service covering the Hebrides including Barra, the only airport in the in the world to use a beach as a runway for scheduled flights “subject to tides”, in addition to Shetland and Orkney.

The museum says it will use the interviews as part of a project to create interactive displays with archive footage exploring the history, technology and personal stories behind each aircraft.

"An important element of the redevelopment …is the opportunity to tell the human stories behind some of the aircraft on display,” added Ferguson.

The Islander, which marked the 50th anniversary of its first flight on June 13 2015, is Europe’s most successful light twin-engined aircraft and is considered one of the most versatile aircraft ever designed.

All inflight births are registered with the Civil Aviation Authority, who naturally take note of flights which arrive with more passengers than they departed with.

Anyone who wants to share their story of mid-air birthing can email info@nms.ac.uk

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