TWO Scottish pilots set off today on a flight around the coast of the UK to celebrate being given clearance to fly again following lockdown.

And the duo's "Freedom Flight" will also prove a life-saving flight as they raise funds for Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

Robert Stalker, 60, from Dunfermline, and fellow businessman and Scottish Aero Club member Tommy Lorimer, 56, from Glasgow, plan to visit as many coastal airports as possible on their seven-day flight round Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"We've called it the 'Freedom Flight' as we're hoping to encourage light aircraft pilots to take to the skies after the Covid restrictions," said Robert.

"Hopefully we'll meet as many as possible around the country as we get back to some form of normality at out airfields."

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With overnight stops organised for their fundraising adventure, both pilots - who have been flying for around 20 years - say the remainder of their touchdown locations are pretty much at the mercy of weather conditions each day.

"We want to visit as many airfields as possible," explained Robert. "Many of the hops will be just minutes between them and others will be a bit longer - especially crossing to and from Northern Ireland. We'll aim to get to our scheduled stopovers each evening and take the rest as time and the elements dictate."

Robert will fly his RV9a G-CCND light aircraft on the trip while Tommy will be his wingman flying his Bristell light aircraft G-PIPZ.

"We have made many trips together but never a round coastal trip of the UK," said Tommy.

"We've really missed flying during lockdown so it's great to take to the air again and make it a trip to remember.

"Using the flight as a fundraiser for SCAA is a bonus and we hope fellow flyers and the public will get behind us and donate," he added. "SCAA is a terrific charity and their crews have never missed a beat to ensure emergency aid reached those in need all throughout the pandemic. They're also flying colleagues and we want to support them."

Robert and Tommy stress that every penny donated will go straight to SCAA.

"We are meeting all our own expenses as this is a flight we're really going to enjoy," explained Robert, "so people can be assured their donations will all go towards SCAA's life-saving service."

Today's first leg will see Robert and Tommy fly to Newtonards in Northern Ireland with other stops including Swansea, the Scilly Isles and Orkney.

The round coastal flight is expected to cover around 2,500 miles, averaging over 300 miles a day, with the final leg seeing the pair land back at Perth Airport, home of the Scottish Aero Club, on Friday May 21.

Nick Harvey, SCAA's Director of Fundraising and Communications, said they would be there to welcome the men home.

"SCAA's Helimed 76 is based at Perth Airport and we'll make sure there's a welcome for Robert and Tommy on May 21 - the day before SCAA marks its eighth anniversary.

"The charity is extremely grateful to both pilots for using their great adventure to raise awareness of and funds for our life-saving service," he added. "Their support will help save lives and keep SCAA flying and we wish them a safe and successful journey."

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