Oban RNLI helps Grandpa reach for the sky

Lifeboats News Release

An Oban boy has donated a flight of a lifetime in an historic biplane to his grandfather after he won the prize at Oban RNLI Open Day.

Seven year old Finlay MacInnes in front of the WACO biplane

RNLI/Stephen Lawson

Finlay MacInnes

Seven-year-old Finlay MacInnes bought the winning ticket in a fundraising draw while visiting Oban RNLI 's summer open day with his Grandpa, David Finlayson, only to be told that the star prize could only be taken up by a fully grown adult.

Last week (Thursday 11 August), David took to the air from Oban airport in a WACO aircraft piloted by Archie Dudgeon, co-owner of Greystones Bed & Breakfast in the town.

“It really was quite spectacular,” said David. “We headed up to Castle Stalker then went down and circled around Oban a couple of times and came back.

“We took Finlay to the Open Day because we do what we can to support the Oban RNLI Lifeboat Station.

'Finlay was gracious in allowing me to enjoy his prize and he and his Granny, Janette, came along to the airport to watch.

'I also managed to find a small replica of a red biplane to buy for Finlay so at least he could have his own one.'

The WACO has its roots in a well-respected 1930s aircraft made by the American Weaver Aircraft Company which went out of business following WW2, only for the original designs to be taken on and modernised by a new company in the 1980s.

Archie & Mo bought their red biplane in 2010 but its engine is from a batch made for the military in 1942, but never used. It’s now a familiar site in the skies above Oban, Connel and Benderloch.

'I first won a scholarship to train as a pilot in New Zealand in 1993 and I have been flying ever since. When I retired, I was looking for the best way to continue enjoying flying and found it.

'For Mo and me it's quite natural to align with the Oban RNLI Lifeboat Station because the lifeboat is just so central to the functioning of the town, yet is dependent on volunteers and donations. My brother in law, Harry McMaster, volunteers on the Oban lifeboat crew and this charity flight donation is the result of a casual chat with him.'

Archie and Mo say they now hope to offer further charity flights to raise more funds for Oban RNLI. They can be contacted at [email protected].

Seven year old Finlay MacInnes and pilot Archie Dudgeon

RNLI/Stephen Lawson

Finlay MacInnes and Archie Dudgeon
The WACO biplane is flown past Oban airport

RNLI/Stephen Lawson

Flypast by the WACO at Oban airport
Archie and David smile as they walk away from the aircraft

RNLI/Stephen Lawson

Archie Dudgeon (left) and David Finlayson (right) after their flight

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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