THE Scotsman who is aiming to play the bagpipes in every country in the world has notched up 100 countries and shows no sign of stopping as his fame grows apace.
Now Ross Jennings, known as the “First Piper”, has gone viral with a video sensation in which he celebrated achieving the 100th country – it was the USA – by serenading passengers aboard a United Airlines flight from Scotland to New York where he took part in the Tartan Day parade.
Edinburgh-born Jennings tweeted the video to his thousands of followers, and it provoked a big response, as also happened on board the aircraft where the passengers – some of whom wore earplugs, it should be said – gave him a round of applause.
The piper tweeted: “I’ve piped in some incredible places around the world, but this has quite literally topped them all! Bagpipes at 35,000 feet. Thanks to @United airlines staff for being such legends & to everyone on board!” His fans loved the video. Chris Chmura tweeted: “If you need a side drummer next time, I’m game.”
Not everyone was so impressed. Cameron Keith Lowes tweeted: “Bagpipes on a plane – isn’t that a war crime..?? #_I_kid” while Tim Sullivan replied: “If you show up on one of my flights, one of us will be thrown out the galley door.”
Interestingly, one tweet from “Mantooth” asked if playing at such a height affected the bagpipes.
Jennings replied: “Fair question! I didn’t think it would but the captain said despite the cabin pressure, it would be the equivalent of playing at about 2000m above sea level! I was pretty out of breath afterwards!”
American cable TV stations picked up the video and interviewed Jennings who combines his bagpiping with writing an award-winning travel blog. Asked by curious American broadcasters why he was doing the trips, he told them: “I thought, why don’t I do something that no one else has done?”
Back in Scotland, briefly, Jennings said: “I’m aiming for a world record to play the bagpipes in every country. Why? Well, my reasons have changed since I first started, but the initial driving force was that I wanted to be the first person to do… something.
It all started five years ago when Jennings attended a travel show in London and met people who specialised in adventure travel.
Jennings said: “In January 2014 I met a group of adventurers who inspired me to kickstart my own journey, and a couple of months later I packed up my life and booked a flight to North Africa. “
The difference with Jennings is that he travels in a kilt and always with his bagpipes – he occasionally has problems at airport security when he is asked to explain what exactly he is carrying in his hand luggage.
Jennings added: “Five years on and it’s now an endless Celtic musical adventure where I travel full-time and meet the most incredible people.
“I’m at country number 100 so I’ve been told it’s now all downhill from here.
“Some highlights of the trip have been piping for the Royal family of Bhutan, piping in front of the Treasury at Petra in Jordan and piping for a tower of giraffes at Giraffe Manor in Kenya.”