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Rare if not unique footage of a St Kilda air mail drop has been unearthed by Uist Film’s FAODAIL l FOUND digitisation project.

Among the reels Taigh Chearsabhagh’s UistFilm hopes to convert to a more durable digital format is dramatic footage of a light aircraft dropping mail for the military outpost in what was undoubtedly a dangerous manoeuvre not only for the pilot but for those on the ground.

The footage is thought to date back to around 1968 and shows the light aircraft (G-AVDB) approaching Hirta at low altitude and dropping packages before banking steeply. The home movie footage shot from a vantage point on Hirta also shows a man in shorts and boots retrieving one of the mailbags and then jogging back to a Land Rover with the bag over his shoulder.

However, not all airdrops on Hirta were as successful. One squaddie, in the 1980s, suffered a broken arm after being struck by a frozen chicken when a supply airdrop went wrong.

FAODAIL l FOUND digitisation project is also a recovery operation after UistFilm were given vintage 8 mm film of life in Uist.

Over 12,000 feet of reels totalling nine hours reveal a telling insight from back in the day.

A crowdfunding appeal to preserve the rare footage is now underway in a bid to raise £10,000 to transfer the precious footage into digital format.

So far, 68 donations have raised £3,550

The aircraft carrying out the airdrop is, according to a vintage aircraft website, a 1967-era Cessna 310L that was operated by Airwork Perth. 

It was capable of carrying five passengers plus the pilot. But as they aged, many were used as training aircraft.

The Cessna, now approaching 60 years old, is believed to still survive as part of a tie-up between Airwork and Perth College. It arrived in Perth in early 1967 and is thought to have been part of their regular work fleet up to about 1973.