The Cherokee 6 aircraft first landed at Glasgow Airport on Sunday 1 May 1966 when it was piloted by Captain Kenneth Foster of Loganair. The all-important test flight ensured the new airport was able to pass the rigorous tests set by the then Ministry of Aviation enabling it to officially open for business on 2 May 1966.
After a gap of 50 years, it was discovered that the Cherokee 6 was still in operation and being used as a skydiving aircraft by the Wingglider Flying Club based at Hibaldstow Airfield in North Lincolnshire.
The airport was reunited with the aircraft for its 50th anniversary and it was welcomed by Amanda McMillan, chief executive of Glasgow Airport, Scott Grier, president of Loganair, and airport historian and author Dugald Cameron.
Amanda McMillan said: “It really is quite remarkable that after 50 years, the Cherokee 6 is still in operation and I cannot think of a better way to mark our anniversary than by bringing it home to Glasgow.
“Since that first landing by Captain Foster on 1 May 1966, Glasgow Airport has gone on to play a pivotal role in connecting Scotland with the world and we have created history along the way. Whether it was the visit of British Airways’ Concorde, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1983 or the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft, the A380, I think it’s fair to say Glasgow Airport has always been at the forefront of Scottish aviation.
“We started life with just seven airlines, three of which are still will us today including Aer Lingus, Icelandair and Loganair. From what really were humble beginnings, we have grown considerably. We now have 30 airlines serving more than nine million passengers and we are looking forward to creating more memories over the next 50 years.”
Loganair president Scott Grier said: “Loganair has been Glasgow’s resident airline since the airport’s first day of operation. Over the last half century the airport has been very supportive of our needs as a regional airline.
“We celebrated our own 50-year anniversary here in 2012 and I’m pleased Loganair has played its part today in helping Glasgow Airport mark its own golden anniversary.”
Capt Foster, who died in April, shortly before the airport celebrated its 50th anniversary, wrote: “We found a few of the approach lights were not accurately aligned and required adjustment by the contractors, as directed by the inspector.
“With the adjustments completed, a ministry car was driven along the runways and taxiways, to ensure they were clear of debris and then we were cleared to land on the pristine runway.”