HIAL honours longest-serving Kirkwall Airport employee

Kirkwall Airport’s longest serving employee has had his 40 years of continuous service recognised with a water-canon salute from his fellow firefighters.

Michael Firth started working at the airport as a technical assistant in 1979 aged 17 and the aviation stalwart has witnessed many changes since then.

As a technical assistant Michael described his time as “very busy” and was one of only two baggage handlers at the time. In 2019 there is a team of seven responsible for moving bags.

Michael has worked in airfield maintenance for the past 26 years, as an engineering assistant doing “anything and everything” to keep the airfield in working order including clearing snow, cutting the grass, painting and mending potholes.

When Michael first started in the role, he was also responsible for opening and closing the terminal, as at that time Kirkwall had no security or fences.

To recognise his 40 years, the Kirkwall Airport Fire Service arranged a special “water-canon” salute with Michael driving his trusty tractor between the airport’s two fire appliances as they sprayed their water jets, forming an arch of water and creating a rainbow in the process.

Michael said: “There is nowhere else I would have rather spent my last 40 years.

“In this job, no two days are the same and I’m always on my feet and problem solving.

“A lot has changed at the airport and the team has grown significantly from when I first started.

“In my time I’ve met some characters and the current team at the airport are fantastic to work with. I’m honoured that they would go to such lengths to celebrate this milestone with me.”

Michael’s achievement was also celebrated with a collection and gifts from the rest of the team at Kirkwall Airport.

Airport fire manager at Kirkwall Airport, Graeme King, said: “Michael deserves every bit of recognition he has received. We are indebted to him, for all his help over the many years.

“He is involved in maintaining every aspect of the airport and nothing you ask of him is ever a hassle.

“The work he does is essential, and the airport wouldn’t run as smoothly without him.”

During his 40 years of service, Michael has also met and married his wife Pat, is proud dad of two children and is now a grandfather of five.