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A VIKING OF THE SKIES; REMEMBERED ASTONISHING LIFE OF NORSEMAN WHO WAS FIRST TO FLY THE NORTH SEA; Village prepares to honour aviator and explorer 100 years on.

Byline: Heather Greenaway

On a foggy day in July 1914, Norwegian pilot Tryggve Gran took off from Cruden Bay beach in Aberdeenshire.

Four hours and 289 miles later, he landed in Klepp, near Stavanger in Norway, becoming the first person to fly non–stop across the North Sea.

One hundred years on and the people of Cruden Bay are getting ready to honour the little–known airman who put their tiny seaside village on the map.

At 2pm on August 23, six planes will stage a fly–past at the Port Errol Harbour Fish Festival to honour one of the most colourful characters in Norwegian history.

Tryggve led an extraordinary life – from being Norway's first international football goalkeeper and finding the body of world–famous explorer Captain Robert Scott in the South Pole to being a war hero in World War I then branded a traitor in World War II – the adventurer's past is as checkered as it comes.

Until now, the intrepid aviator has remained a mystery to the people of Scotland but organisers hope next weekend's commemorative fly past, which will be attended by Tryggve's son Hermann, will give the legend the recognition he deserves.

David Webster, Trustee of Port Errol Harbour, said: "Tryggve's flight is a wonderful milestone in the history of aviation but he never really got the publicity he deserved as World War I broke out five days later and his achievements were quickly overshadowed.

"He set off on the morning of July 30 in his Bleriot XI–2 monoplane Ca Flotte from the Cruden Bay Golf Course but two miles out to sea, he hit a fog bank and had to turn back.

"He landed on the beach and it was from here, at 1.10pm, that he took off on the epic journey that would result in him becoming the first man to fly across the North Sea."

He added: "Errol Harbour is adjacent to the spot Tryggve took off from 100 years ago so we are using this year's fish festival to celebrate his amazing achievement.

"The Norwegians honoured him on July 30, the exact anniversary, by recreating his flight from Cruden Bay to Norway and now it is our turn."

Tryggve's son Hermann, 69, a retired TV producer, is delighted Scotland wants to honour his father. He said: "My dad was a one–off, he could turn his hand to anything. He believed in pushing the limits without stepping over them.

"Becoming the first pilot to fly over the North Sea was quite a feat and he returned to Norway a hero but the rest of the world didn't get to hear about him as the focus turned to war.

"I am really looking forward to standing on the same beach my father did 100 years ago and am delighted the people of Cruden Bay want to honour same beach my father did 100 years ago and am delighted the people of Cruden Bay want to honour him in this way."

Hermann, who studied TV and film in Glasgow, added: "From ilot and polar explorer to footballer and writer, my father was a truly remarkable man.

"His philosophy was if you don't take risks and push the boundaries,we would all still be living in caves. He was so right."

Tryggve was way ahead of his peers, with his pioneering [euro]ight coming 13 years before Charles Lindbergh's rst solo [euro]ight across the Atlantic.

He was born in 1888 in Bergen, Norway, into a wealthy shipbuilding family and was highly educated. In 1903, befriended Kaiser Wilhelm II who inspired himto become a naval officer.

After graduating from naval college, the talented skier became an instructor to Robert Scott's men and in 1911, he went to Antarctica to lay the supply depots ahead of the explorer's feted expedition to the South Pole.

In November 1912, TRYGGVE was part of the 11–man search party that found the tent containing the bodies of the Scott and his team.

David said: "Tryggve helped bury the bodies and used his skis to makea cross over the graves.

"He then wore Scott's skis on the return journey through the Antarctic, ensuring that a part of the "He then wore Scott's skis on the return journey through the Antarctic, ensuring that a part of the explorer completed the expedition. His actions earned him the Polar medal, which was presented to him by King George V.

"Coming back from the Antarctic, Tryggve met an aviator and decided he wanted to become a pilot. After training at Louis Bleriot's aviation school in Paris, he embarked on his North Sea adventure. "

He added: "Only ve days later, the UK entered World War I. Tryggve, now a rst lieutenant in the Norwegian Army Air Service, volunteered for service with the Royal Flying Corps.

"He was rejected because of Norway's neutrality. However, the rejection did not stop him. Under the identity of "Captain Teddy Grant" of Canada, he was admitted to the RFC.

"During the war, the RAF promoted Tryggve to the rank of Major, and awarded him the Military Cross for distinguished war service. Life expectanc y in the skies was only two weeks, Tryggve lasted the full four years. That's how skilled a pilot he was."

Sadly, he was later discredited in his native Norway after being forced to join Quisling's Nationalist Party during World War II as a way of surviving.

The party used Tryggve's hero–like status in their war propaganda and in 1944, a commemorative stamp was issued to mark the 30th anniversary of his North Sea flight.

Tryggve feared reprisals from the pro–German fascist party because of his commitment to the Royal Air Force in World War I and he was forced to side with the Germans during the Nazi occupation of Norway.

After a trial in 1948, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 18 months.

Hermann said: "To protect his family, he had to keep the Germans onside, which was dicult for him after the war but he got through it. "

David, who is looking forward to welcoming Hermann, his wife and two daughters to Cruden Bay, said: "We are not interested in his political alliances, we just want to mark his marvellous aviation milestone."

In 1971, Tryggve returned to Cruden Bay to unveil a memorial. He died in his home in Grimstad, Norway, on January 8, 1980, aged 91.

To mark the 100th anniversary, the Klepp Town Hall in Norway are runnin g Klepp Town Hall in Norway are runnin g an exhibition.

Hermann revealed Tryggve's life is being turned into a lm. He said: "When my dad died in 1980, he died happy. His story reads like a movie."

The Trygvve Gran Commemorative Fly–Past will take place over Port Errol Harbour at 2pm on Saturday.

He believed if you didn't take risks and push the boundaries, we would all still be living in caves

CAPTION(S):

POLITICAL PAWN The Nazis' stamp which was brought out in 1944, above. Left, polar explorer Tryggve and, below, memorial to the Norwegian at Cruden Bay POLITICAL PAWN The Nazis' stamp which was brought out in 1944, above. Left, polar explorer Tryggve and, below,

ONE–OFF Tryggve Gran in 1914, top, and in 1972, above

HIGH FLYER Tryggve on right in front of his plane in Norway after his historic flight across the North Sea
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:0NORT
Date:Aug 17, 2014
Words:1246
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