With thanks to Annie B for the reminder.
In recent times, Stornoway Airport has suffered a shortage of air-traffic controllers. If one went off sick, it would leave the airport unmanned and therefore shut. One afternoon, last winter, it closed at 3.20pm and left a number of high-profile individuals high and dry. Or should that be low and dry, as they could not get airborne. Oh the inconvenience. Distracted our MP from cash for honours for a day. Perhaps that contributed to the scuppering of that inquiry. Wheesht.
Anyway, the other day, the same situation threatened to develop, and there was this beautiful new helicopter sitting on the tarmac, doing nothing. And wasn't the other air-traffic controller out fishing on Loch Langavat? What a nice exercise, send the chopper off to Langavat to find said ATC and airlift him to work.
The only problem is that Langavat is the largest loch on Lewis, 8 miles long, and it's quite easy to hide under the heather along its shores. So, Mike Uniform returned without ATC - I cannot remember how many if any flights were cancelled, I think it was three at most. And shock horror, if an emergency had arisen whilst Mike Uniform was fishing for trout on Langavat, it would have led to unacceptable delays in response times - or would it? Langavat is 25 miles southwest of Stornoway, which is about 10 minutes flying time.
Yes it's daft to send a helicopter out to look for a replacement member of staff. It just showed up, once again, that staffing crisis at the airport, and the ridiculous pressure being brought to bear to avoid closure of the airport as a result. C'mon folks, where are those brandnew airtraffic controllers?