Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

New exhibition to mark 100 years of the Montrose Air Station

RFC roundel

On 26 February, 1913, The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) set up its first air station, at Montrose.

A special exhibition will open during February 2013 to mark the start of celebrations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Britain’s first operational military airfield at the air station. It would become one of the main training centre for Britain’s pilots during both World War I and World War II, as well as one of the main operational stations during those conflicts.

On 23 February, 2013, Montrose’s Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines will open to the public in a ceremony led by by Councillor Helen Oswald, the Provost of Angus, who will be accompanied by RAF airmen from 2 Squadron – the first squadron to be based at Montrose.

Dr Dan Paton, curator of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said the exhibition would include several of the fascinating artefacts from the station’s proud history.

He explained: “The exhibition also features several items that have been loaned to us especially for the occasion, such as Winkie the Pigeon, who is normally a resident at Dundee’s McManus Art Gallery and Museum.

“During the Second World War, caged pigeons would often be carried in planes so they could fetch help if anything went wrong. Winkie was in a bomber flying from Leuchars when it was hit by enemy fire and went down in the North Sea. On release from her cage, Winkie flew to Broughty Ferry, where she raised the alarm and the crew were saved. In recognition of her bravery, Winkie was awarded the Dicken Medal and, after she died, her body was preserved so future generations would remember her.”

The exhibition will also feature a diorama providing a miniature 3D aerial view of Montrose Air Station as it was in 1940 and the cross from a grave in France of a British pilot who trained at Montrose and was killed in action in 1917.

Via Montrose military airfield to celebrate 100 years – Heritage – Scotsman.com

Winkie the pigeon – first recipient of Dicken Medal

The story about Winkie is actually somewhat more impressive than the above summary suggests:

Winkie was a blue chequered hen bird that had been carried on board a Beaufort bomber which had been forced to ditch in the North Sea, after completing a raid in Norway. Such pigeons were often carried on missions in case something went wrong.

Unable to radio their position – somewhere around 100 miles from home – the crew released their pigeon in the hope that she would be able to fly home to her loft in Broughty Ferry, and alert their colleagues in the air base at RAF Leuchars of their predicament.  Winkie made it home, after flying 120 miles, and was discovered exhausted and covered in oil by owner George Ross who immediately informed the air base.

But, more remarkable was the fact that Winkie  was not carrying a specific message. RAF personnel were able to calculate the position of the downed aircraft using the time difference between the plane’s ditching and the arrival of the bird – taking into account the wind direction and even the impact of the oil on her feathers to her flight speed.

A rescue mission was launched and the men were found within 15 minutes – there can be little doubt that the crew would have died without the bird’s effort.

Winkie became the first recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Opening Times:

The Air Station is open from April 1st until September 30th, Wednesday to Saturday, 10am – 4pm.

Open Sundays all year round from 12pm to 4pm. Other times by arrangement.

Entry via Broomfield Industrial Estate, follow tourist ‘brown’ signs.

Admission fee applies – check web site for current fees.

DIRECTIONS.
Follow A92 to the North end of Montrose and turn into Broomfield Road following the Tourist Signs, then turn left into the Industrial Estate, continue down this road until you reach a bend in the road and you will find Montrose Air Station on the left hand side.

Via Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Displays Displays and exhibits at the centre

The museum has been growing steadily over the years, and is well worth the time it takes to explore.

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February 13, 2013 - Posted by | Aviation, military, World War I, World War II | , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on Pickled Wings.

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    Comment by pickledwings | February 13, 2013

  2. […] But… let me direct you to an interesting website that has conveniently written up everything for me (and you) – at Secret Scotland. […]

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    Pingback by Montrose Air Station Centenary | Pioneers Of Aviation | February 18, 2013


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