First North Sea crossing marked by new lectern

The first aircraft crossing of the North Sea in 1914 has been marked with the installation of special display lecterns at Cruden Bay and Jaeren in Norway.

By Morag Kuc
Friday, 11th September 2020, 9:12 am
Updated Friday, 11th September 2020, 9:15 am
The new Tryggve Gran lectern which has been installed in Cruden Bay.
The new Tryggve Gran lectern which has been installed in Cruden Bay.

Norwegian pilot Tryggve Gran completed the epic crossing more than 100 years ago and the lectern in Cruden Bay, at Main Street, is located next to his monument which marks the start of the flight in Cruden Bay.

The other lectern will be installed in the field in Norway where the aircraft landed.

The Cruden Bay lectern comes courtesy of a £1,500 grant from NorthConnect, a joint venture company which aims to build a power connection between Scotland and Norway to enable the exchange of renewable wind and hydro power.

The Norway lectern has been funded by a lottery sale of whisky bottles produced a few years ago to mark the crossing.

The two lecterns, both of which are written in English and Norwegian, provide the untold story of the dramatic aircraft flight in 1914.

They read as follows:

“On July 30th 1914, Tryggve Gran (1888 – 1980) piloting a Blériot monoplane took off at 8 a.m. from a field near the Cruden Bay Hotel. His aim: to make the first aircraft crossing of the North Sea.

“The flight was dramatic from the start; he narrowly avoided colliding with the overhead electric tram wires which connected the hotel and the station.

“Twenty miles out, he encountered sea fog and turned back. Landing on the beach, the aircraft overshot the sand, and to avoid hitting the rocks at the far end, Gran steered into the sea.

“He took off from the beach for his second attempt just after 1 pm, and headed towards his native Norway. All went well until half way across when, after changing fuel tanks, the engine cut out because of low pressure in the tanks and the aircraft plummeted.

“The down-draft started the propellers going again, and he flattened out thirty metres above the sea. He had ‘prayed to the good Lord to help me’.”

Tryggve Gran landed in a field on a farm near Stavanger in Norway, four hours and ten minutes after leaving Scotland. The 510 kilometre flight was one of the famous early air journeys.

At the age of 26 in 1914, Tryggve Gran had already taken part in a historical event. He had been a member of Captain Scott’s team, supporting their expedition to the South Pole in 1912.

In 1971 Tryggve Gran returned to Cruden Bay to inaugurate the nearby memorial dedicated to his famous flight.

The NorthConnect grant has also been used by the Port Erroll Heritage Group to fund and install a display board providing information about the history of Slains Castle.