Aviation exhibition takes off at Montrose

Pictured looking at a Sopwith Camel replica is chairman of Montrose Heritage Centre Alan Doe, Lord Lieutenant of Angus Georgiana Osborne and Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson.

Pictured looking at a Sopwith Camel replica is chairman of Montrose Heritage Centre Alan Doe, Lord Lieutenant of Angus Georgiana Osborne and Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson.

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A display commemorating five air squadrons formed at Montrose has taken flight.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre is marking the role the air station, which was the first operational military air base in the UK, played in the First World War.

When Number 2 Squadron left Montrose on the August 3, 1914 it was part of five Royal Flying Corps (RFC) fleets sent to war with less than 100 planes in total.

It was joined by 25 Squadron in 1915, 43 Squadron in 1916, 83 Squadron and 108 Squadron in 1917.

By the time war ended in 1918, the newly formed Royal Air Force (RAF) had more than 20,000 aircraft and 200 operational squadrons.

An exhibition marking these five squadrons has been unveiled at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre.

It sits in the Lt Ross Robertson building, which is named after a pilot who learned to fly at Montrose and was killed in action on his fourth mission in 1917.

Scotland’s top RAF officer, Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson officially opened the display. Also in attendance were Lord Lieutenant of Angus Georgiana Osborne and Roger Elliott, wing commander for Number 2 Army Co-operation Squadron.

Mr Paterson said the passing of 100 years since the formation of 25 squadron, which formed on September 25, 1915, was one of the driving forces behind the exhibition.

As he stood by the 25 Squadron display, Mr Paterson thanked and congratulated curator of the heritage centre Dr Dan Paton for his efforts and that of the staff and volunteers at the museum on the “tremendous” display, adding the RAF will its “absolute best” to promote the centre going forward.

He said: “One of the things I have to do as part of my role as Air Office for Scotland is the representation of the service up here and I’m delighted that we’ve had confirmed that the RAF will have the lead for the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2018, clearly commemorating the end of the great war.

“Over the next few years we will see many RAF anniversaries tumbling out as many of our squadrons were born out of The Great War.

“The link between technology and air power is something that has been there right for the very start. However advanced the technology is, it always comes down to the human element.

“That is as important today as it was in the early days when men went up in the aircraft we’re looking at.

“The workload is as high as it was in the days of yore.”

He added air power remains the first line of defence for the nation and that the service is already looking and working on how it can be as effective going into its next 100 years.

“I found a statement which is true, it said, ‘History is inescapable, it’s not useful, it’s essential’ and I think in the work that this whole theme of making sure that we understand our past, which will then help us make sense of the present, which is perhaps difficult at times with the world we live in, but mostly definitely to try and shape the future is something that rings through for all three services.

“It is something very true for what we’re trying to do for the World War One work and it is certainly something as a service that is very dear to our hearts,” said Mr Paterson.

Alan Doe, chairman of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said he hopes visitors will find the exhibition “informative and interesting”.

To mark the opening of the display on Thursday, October 1, a 2 Squadron Typhoon flew over Montrose and Dr Neil Geddes wowed visitors with aerial twists and turns during his flying display in a replica SE5.

Roger Elliott, wing commander for Number 2 Army Co-operation Squadron, told us: “I have been lucky to be invited to a lot of events marking the start of World War One this year and I am always humbled.

“The pilots had to have courage just to get in the air plans let alone fly them in the war.

“Air Vice-Marshal Paterson mentioned the link between technology and air power but the planes we are flying are completely different to those the pilots were operating then.”