KEN Smith (Herald Diary, October 9) had the story wrong about Barra residents lampooning the Short 360 (successor to the far superior and much-missed Skyvan). The local joke was actually that it was so named because the moment it flew over Barra it turned around and flew back to Glasgow. Another was that Loganair planned eventually to simply give passengers parachutes, as the planes were more often used for civilian skydiving anyway.

The reason the plane is such a disaster is purely down to weight. The Short 360 is 27, 00 lbs (12,292 kg) fully laden, far too heavy to land on a soggy beach on anything but pristine conditions, more than double that of its predecessor the Twin Otter (12,500 lb or 5,670 kg) which itself was double that of the brilliant Britten-Norman Islander (6,600 lb or 2,994 kg).

Barra's woes began the moment the Islander was replaced. In childhood I grew to appreciate seldom was a plane so ablest by its technical design, crawling through the sky over my house what seemed inches at a time, impervious to the gale-force winds and lashing rain, its daily low, lazy drone in the worst of Scottish winters a comforting reminder of our capabilities to overcome whatever Mother Nature flings at us (occasional Tay Bridges aside).

One can scarcely imagine what that sound meant to those for whom the Islander's hum was their lifeline, where its STOL capabilities (Short Take Off and Landing) also made it more forgiving on days the Barra beach was less than perfect – hence why it remains still in use with more than 120 countries.

Mark Boyle,

15 Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone.