At the age of 20, Tryggve Gran, a young Norwegian, was a skiing instructor with Scott’s expedition to the South Pole. He was one of the search party who found and buried the bodies. Gran used his own skis to make a cross to mark the grave and traveled home wearing Scott’s skis. He reasoned that at least Scott’s skis would complete the journey.
In June 1914 , just 5 years before the concecration of Lodge St. Olaf in Cruden Bay, Tryggve Gran, now 26 and a pilot serving in the Royal Flying Corps announced that he “would start from Peterhead as soon as a day comes when the weather looks fair and settled and make for Stavanger on the west coast of Norway. Between Peterhead and Stavanger there are many steamship routes so that if I drop on the way I shall have a very good chance of being picked up within a few hours.
His plane, CA FLOTTE, transported in a container was taken to Cruden Bay from Leith in a lorry. On 17th July 1914, the plane was removed from its container before being assembled. The monoplane was bought from Louis Bleriot, the aviation pioneer for 13,000 francs – half the original price.
Before the flight started, the plane was almost blown away in gale of wind. The ground crew had to attach more guy ropes to the fuselage and remove the wings.
As all civilian planes were to be banned after 6pm on 30th July, Gran started his journey at 8am on July 30th 1914 from a field near Nethermill. However thick fog forced him back to the beach at Cruden Bay.
Many years later on a return visit to Cruden Bay, Gran described his plane as” an affair of bicycle wheels and piano wire”
In 1967, fifty three years after his epic crossing, Gran returned to Cruden Bay to attend a commemorative service in Cruden Parish Church. To mark the occasion, the boys of Hatton (Cruden) school made a model of his monoplane to hang in the church.
During the service, Tryggve recalled his flight. As a man of faith, he prayed three times on his pioneering flight. Once, when he was in the air above Cruden Bay, once when he was miles out and his engine failed and he began to drop towards the sea. He managed to restart the engine and as he climbed towards the clouds he prayed again. The third time he prayed was when he landed on Norwegian soil with fuel for less than half an hour’s flying.
Gran said he was only half a pioneer– the real pioneers were men like Louis Bleriot who built their own planes and taught themselves how to fly.