Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

RAF100 to visit the Glasgow Science Centre with five aircraft

Hopefully this won’t change after I mention it, but I spotted an interesting (free) event which is set to arrive at the Glasgow Science Centre this weekend (Friday to Sunday, 31 August to 2 September),  specifically…

Open on Friday 9am to 5.30pm – Last admittance is at 5pm.

Open on Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm – Last admittance is at 5.30pm.

On show:

  • Sopwith Snipe Biplane
  • Supermarine Spitfire MkVb
  • Harrier GR3 – (first VSTOL production aircraft)
  • Typhoon Full Scale Replica
  • F35 (LII) Full Scale Replica

Iconic fighter planes from past 100 years to go on display in Glasgow this summer as part of RAF100 Aircraft Tour

RAF100 Aircraft Tour Glasgow

RAF100 Aircraft Tour


RAF100 Publcity Image

RAF100 Publicity Image


Red Arrows cancel Glasgow flypast for RAF centenary


August 27, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, photography, Transport, World War I, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Fatal Accident Inquiry into helicopter crash on Clutha set for April 2019

The Crown Office has announced that an FAI (fatal accident inquiry) into the crash of a helicopter onto the roof of the Clutha pub will begin fully in April 2019.

Ten people died and 31 others were injured when a police helicopter crashed into the roof of the pub on 29 November 2013.

A preliminary hearing will take place on Wednesday 3 October 2018 at Hampden Park in the city, also the venue for the full inquiry.

Further preliminary hearings will also be held on 4-5 December 2018, and 5-6 February 2019, with the main inquiry date set for Monday 8 April.

It’s interesting to observe the posture of two of the legal firms involved.

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, said: “This is very welcome news from the Crown Office, although it has taken far too long for us to reach this stage.

“An FAI is the only way the families of those who lost their lives will be able to learn what happen to their loved ones on that awful night almost five years ago.

“The FAI will also be able to make recommendations that will hopefully prevent a similar accident from happening again.

“I hope the Crown Office will make sure the families are at the very centre of this process, are kept fully informed of all developments and are treated in a compassionate and sympathetic manner.”

However, Paul Kavanagh, of KM Law, who represents the families of five of those who died in the pub and its owner, said: “They are more concerned about the lack of information coming from the Crown.

“This is in marked contrast to the M9 deaths, where the Crown kept the families up to date on a monthly basis.”

Mr Kavanagh said he was not concerned about the time taken for the FAI to start.

He said: “The Crown must have learned from their actions in the Glasgow bin lorry case [in which six people were killed in 2014].

“The FAI [which reported within a year of the crash] was rushed and it was a disaster

“Justice rushed is justice denied.”

Clutha helicopter disaster FAI to begin in April

Clutha helicopter inquiry set for Hampden in April

The Crown Office previously said there would be no criminal proceedings.

Investigators found that fuel transfer switches on the helicopter were turned off at the time of the crash.

A report published in 2015 by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the pilot did not follow emergency protocol and flew on despite low fuel warnings.

It said fuel transfer pumps were turned off and a controlled landing was not achieved for “unknown reasons”.

The Crown Office previously said that following a wide-ranging investigation, which involved the consideration of a “significant volume of documentation” and detailed statements from witnesses, it had concluded there was no evidence to justify criminal proceedings.

14 February 2014: AAIB special report finds both engines “flamed out”. One of the fuel tanks was empty, while a second contained 0.4 litres. A third contained 75 litres, but transfer pumps to take this fuel to the other two engine tanks were switched off.

Date announced for Clutha helicopter crash inquiry

The Clutha

The Clutha

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Shetland Space Centre on Unst could be launching rockoons

I recently mentioned the recent surge in interest regarding a spaceport (or possibly more accurately, a vertical launch facility) which could be located in Sutherland.

There’s more activity up north, as it seems there are plans to set up a space centre in Shetland, and a feasibility study into the use of the island of Unst as the launch site for a new satellite balloon system. Such system use a gas-filled balloon to carry the rocket into the upper atmosphere, where it separates from the balloon and is ignited.

Shetland Space Centre has joined forces with B2Space, a Bristol-based firm, to develop a small satellite launcher based on such a stratospheric balloon known as a rockoon.

I’d read about such systems some years ago, but the problem then was the size of the payload, since the balloon has to be able to lift the whole rocket.

Today, with cubesats and similar small satellites, that is no longer an issue, and a number of companies are now working on such launch systems.

New balloon satellite study amid Shetland Space Centre plans

July 27, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scot directs new film about Polish flyers in World War II

Having Polish roots, I came to learn of the Poles part in World War II after Hitler overran the country at the start of his ‘land grab’, and how Scotland came to figure in the lives of many Poles.

Many troops were based in Scotland after being displaced, stationed on the east coast, where there was always the possibility of a Nazi invasion routed via occupied Norway. Much of the coast was formed into a ‘Stop line’ to delay such an enemy incursion, which would allow time for troop movements to the area. Those on a Stop Line were almost certain to lose their lives, were it ever activated.

But their main active contribution was the part they played in the RAF, where their reputation as determined flyers became legendary.

Unfortunately (and note the use of ‘English’ in this quote):

These men were instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain yet in time-honoured English tradition, the majority of the population wanted them deported after the war – once they’d fulfilled their usefulness.

“Not unlike what we’re trying to do today with our catastrophic approach to immigration, the Windrush generation and so on.”

The source is a Scottish filmmaker has directed a new film about a squadron of Polish pilots who fought alongside the RAF at the Battle of Britain in World War II.

Hurricane is Johnstone-born David Blair’s first war feature.

Starring Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones fame, the film is about fliers who fought Nazi Germany after escaping to Britain from occupied Poland.

Flying Hurricane fighters for the RAF, they became a key component in the story of The Few.

Blair, who now lives near Moniaive in Dumfriesshire, said that while making the film he was struck by the Poles’ self-sacrifice.

He said: “I knew there had been Poles – amongst others, from around the world – serving in the British armed forces during World War Two but that was about it.

“As I was growing up, there was little inclination in history lessons to point up the contribution made by ‘foreigners’ to our war effort.”

Directing Hurricane, Blair said he learned of the exploits of Poles and service personnel from other parts of the world in Britain’s war-time activities.

He said: “It’s one thing to fight for a cause in a far away land but to do so while all sorts of horrors are taking place back home – of which you have only scant information – made the story heart-breaking – but irresistible too.

“What was taking place in Poland no doubt acted as a spur and incentive for the men to keep going.”

Scot directs new film on WW2 Polish fighters

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Scottish Aviation Ltd Twin Pioneer ‘saved’

While it may not be the museum class restoration some would want to see, it’s still nice to see that an example of a Scottish Aviation Ltd Twin Pioneer aircraft will not be left to rot, or broken up.

Built at the Prestwick factory almost 60 years ago (coincidentally in the 1960s too), G-APRS, or ‘Primrose’, retired from her last job in pilot training due to ageing wing struts after 59 years in service.

The airframe will serve as accommodation (beside a Sea King helicopter that took on a similar job a few years ago) with a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom fitted inside to replace 14 seats – but the cockpit will remain.

Vintage plane’s new lease of life as holiday home for high-flyers

The very same aircraft can be seen below, preparing to taxi at RAF Abingdon in 2004.

G-APRS Twin Pioneer RAF Abingdon 2004

G-APRS Twin Pioneer RAF Abingdon 2004

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

My first drone

My first drone – but not mine as in owned (that sort of expense, for a worthwhile one, is a thing of the past), rather it appears to be my next door neighbour’s new toy.

Playing the same trick I would, and flying it within his own property boundary, I spotted this more as a movement in the corner of my eye, rather than from the sound of its rotors.

I’m guessing (you can’t tell a lot against a bright sky at distance) it’s a one of the budget models – lots of nice features, but all built from the cheap end of the market, and sold in the toy department rather from a model shop or drone supplier. They may not be ‘pro’, but I have been impressed by the features on offer from a certain TV shopping channel recently. The ‘bendy’ aspect of many parts is particularly clever, meaning that unlike a robust drone, they bounce rather than break with things go wrong.

It flew well enough, and was stable when left to hover on its own, but when it did manoeuvre, there was no sound of ‘power’ from the motors or rotors, as heard from a ‘pro’ drone, which tends to ‘beat the air into submission’ as it moves fast.

It’s only the second one I’ve seen – the first was a long time ago, in the local park, where the guy flying it grabbed it out of the air and stuffed it into the back of the car and drove of as I walked into the park and spotted him.

I’ve heard one or two, but never caught sight of anything.

And a more interesting development in recent weeks has been the sound of electric aircraft, as in fixed wing models. Again, heard as the sound drifts over, but never anything to seen. But these are even smaller than those seen when the noisier glow engine was the normal power source.

Funny thing, I couldn’t find a stock image that looked as simple as the one I spotted, so had to fettle a similar item.

Even this one is more complex than the actual drone, which looked like little more than three straight rods in the usual ‘H’ drone format, with a thicker body (no camera slung below, so probably built-in, as most cheap commercial items tend to be), and a rotor at each corner.

There were no rotor guards, or even any sort of undercarriage apparent.

Black Drone Zoom Blur

Black Drone Zoom Blur

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Not a new picture, but not all that old either – the gallery where Glasgow’s Spitfire LA198 is housed. A late model Mark F21 airframe fitted with the more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engine, as opposed to the Merlin, it flew with 602 City of Glasgow Auxiliary Squadron between 1947 and 1949. LA198 was eventually placed in storage, then spent three years as a gate guardian at RAF Leuchars during the 1980s, I’ve read that 602 pilots were the first part-time squadron to be equipped with Spitfires on 8 May 1939.

When I took this pic there was a sign posted nearby to the effect that this gallery had just been re-opened to the public, having been closed for some time for remedial work. I’m guessing this referred to the floor mounted displays and cases – as I took a few pics of the aircraft, I couldn’t help but notice that some years must have passed since it last saw a duster. Not a complaint in any way (it is hanging from the roof after all), merely an observation.

The idea behind the pic was to see if it was possible to get a centred and symmetrical shot from the upper balcony.

It seems it is, and the only thing that is ‘off’ is the 5-blade propeller, which has settled a few degrees away from vertical.

The original pic was surprisingly close to ideal, and needed only a few degrees of correction for converging verticals (which was the photographer’s fault, for not holding the camera properly). I should also have been a fraction further to the right, but this detail was just too fine to see in the viewfinder.

The museum staff seem to have done a VERY good job of hanging the airframe to ensure the wings are truly horizontal.

I had used the tailplane and vertical fin as my references to line this one up.

Click on the image for a slightly bigger version.

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery


Just to be different/awkward (and avoid ‘just’ having the same pic as everyone else, I thought I’d point the camera at the cockpit and aerial suspension system.

It didn’t quite come off perfectly, as it was just an afterthought, but I did catch the bits I was interested in.

Maybe I’ll take some proper pics if I get back.

The cockpit and upper suspension yoke (and you can probably see the need to fly someone up there and give the canopy a once over with some polish 🙂 ).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

This view of the lower wing root suspension is even worse than the first (I almost missed the upper yoke!) as I was so busy looking at the wing root I forgot to keep the camera level.

Let’s call it intentional, and meant to portray the Spit in a dive – or maybe I’ll just level the pic, since it portrays something hanging, and just looks ‘wrong’ with those cable lying at an angle. (So, I levelled, but couldn’t crop fully and had to edit a little, or lose the periscope mirror).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

I was sure I had some earlier pics (taken at the re-opening of Kelvingrove), but guess they are on film, so not readily to hand.

The reason I wanted to dig them out was for comparison.

Stuck in my mind is the image of a number of missing screws I spotted in the pics I took on that opening day, and this new shot clearly shows that nothing is missing.

One day, I’ll get around to digitising my film pics, and will have to check this out.

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, photography, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Statue unveiled in memory of Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown – Britain’s Greatest Test Pilot

I have to confess I had no idea this statue existed, let alone was complete and set to be unveiled.

I came across Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown’s name on numerous occasions whenever I was investigation aviation related stories, and my attention became all the greater when I learned he was a Scot from Leith.

I did raise a page to his achievements in our Wiki, but it was really only a token gesture, so I could avoid being accused of not noticing him. There’s just too much to mention.

He even met Yuri Gagarin, and learnt how Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft and parachuted to Earth separately – something denied by the Soviets, and not revealed officially until some years later.

Episode 40: April 2nd 2011: Gagarin in London : Captain Eric Brown

As well as the summary, there are a couple of short video clips featuring him.

Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown

Edinburgh Airport has unveiled a statue of Eric “Winkle” Brown, Britain’s greatest ever test pilot.

The life-sized bronze sculpture outside the terminal was funded by former pilots from the Edinburgh University Air Squadron.

Prince Andrew revealed the statue on Monday (01 July 2018).

Sir Jon Elvidge, chairman of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown is someone who is synonymous with RAF Turnhouse, and is in turn a key figure in the history of what is now Edinburgh Airport.

“His achievement (sic) speak for themselves and the fact his remarkable career is still held in such high regard after all these years is testament to the man himself.”

Statue of Britain’s greatest ever test pilot unveiled

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth fun – Something for the weekend

Following Monday’s news that flat-earthers have insulted the people of Scotland by taking over a shop in Inverness, I can only do my own bit and have some fun for the rest of the week.

Not actually ‘fun’ as such (unless the idea of flat earthers is enough to tickle your funny bone), but a set of gorgeous hi-res pics shared from a recent Dragon Lady flight to the edge of space.

For those not aware, the Lockheed U-2, nicknamed Dragon Lady, is an American single jet engine, ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force, previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency, and has been since the mid-1950s.

This is the panorama you get from the cockpit of a legendary U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft.

Ross Franquemont is a U-2 pilot and instructor at the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Beale Air Force Base, California. Fortunately for the rest of the world, he is also a great photographer. In fact, the incredible images you can find in this post were taken by Ross during missions flown at high altitude (something around 70,000 feet) in the Dragon Lady aircraft.

Flat earthers hate it, and of course, say any pics taken from it and showing the curvature of the Earth (and any other globe effects) are all FAKE, and manufactured for the purpose of discrediting the ‘truth’ of the flat earth.

Earth From U-2 Credit Ross Franquemont Via The Aviationist

Earth From U-2 Credit Ross Franquemont Via The Aviationist

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | | Leave a comment

A positive drone story slipped through the media censor net

In a double first, authorities are claiming the drone-assisted rescue seen in the video below is a ‘World First.

I’d say it’s a double because this must be one of the few drone stories reported by the media with any sort of positive aspect.

It’s also notable that I found this as a Guardian report, as source often mocked for not being part of the rabid media.

It would take too long to list the usual complaints and whining noises heard when drones are featured in the media, and usually grossly misrepresented, since the problem is generally not the drone as such, but some moron who has it under their ‘control’.

I sadly doubt this marks a change though, and the media will continue to home in on those who suffer from drone-phobia, and it will be business as usual for those who just want to shoot them down if they see one, or imagine they see them about to collide with their jet (but never have evidence, apart from the one ‘hit’ that turned out to be a plastic bag when inspected on the ground).

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace air display

I couldn’t think of something appropriate for the first post of 2018, although I had planned a series of relevant pics, they needed some fettling and that wasn’t finished.

Scratching around material collected but yet to be used, I remembered forgetting about a chance find from the People’s Palace, which even labelled itself.

If you’re familiar with the layout, and recognise the spot, then you’ll also appreciate why it’s so dusty, and why those items have been left where they lie.

Peoples Palace Air Display

Peoples Palace Air Display

January 1, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, council, photography | | Leave a comment

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