Located in the centre of the village is the Tryggve Gran monument, erected to commemorate the first successful flight across the North Sea.
At the age of 20, Tryggve Gran, a young Norwegian, was a skiing instructor with Scott’s
expedition to the South Pole. He was one of the search party who found and buried
the bodies. Gran used his own skis to make a cross to mark the grave and traveled
home wearing Scott’s skis. He reasoned that at least Scott’s skis would complete
In June 1914 Tryggve Gran, now 26 and a pilot serving in the Royal Flying Corps announced
that he “would start from Peterhead as soon as a day comes when the weather looks
fair and settled and make for Stavanger on the west coast of Norway. Between Peterhead
and Stavanger there are many steamship routes so that if I drop on the way I shall
have a very good chance of being picked up within a few hours
His plane, CA FLOTTE, transported in a container was taken to Cruden Bay from Leith
in a lorry. On 17th July 1914, the plane was removed from its container before being
assembled. The monoplane was bought from Louis Bleriot, the aviation pioneer for
13,000 francs – half the original price.
Before the flight started, the plane was almost blown away in gale of wind. The ground
crew had to attach more guy ropes to the fuselage and remove the wings.
As all civilian planes were to be banned after 6pm on 30th July, Gran started his
journey at 8am on July 30th 1914 from a field near Nethermill. However thick fog
forced him back to the beach at Cruden Bay.
Many years later on a return visit to Cruden Bay, Gran described his plane as” an
affair of bicycle wheels and piano wire”
In 1967, fifty three years after his epic crossing, Gran returned to Cruden Bay to
attend a commemorative service in Cruden Parish Church. To mark the occasion, the
boys of Hatton (Cruden) school made a model of his monoplane to hang in the church.
During the service, Tryggve recalled his flight. As a man of faith, he prayed three
times on his pioneering flight. Once, when he was in the air above Cruden Bay, once
when he was miles out and his engine failed and he began to drop towards the sea.
He managed to restart the engine and as he climbed towards the clouds he prayed again.
The third time he prayed was when he landed on Norwegian soil with fuel for less
than half an hour’s flying.
Gran said he was only half a pioneer– the real pioneers were men like Louis Bleriot
who built their own planes and taught themselves how to fly.