Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

I took an unusual pic of Glasgow’s Spitfire – then there was a coincidence!

Time for yet another spooky coincidence – they really do follow me around.

During one of my recent visits to Kelvingrove, I happened to look up as I walked through the gallery where Glasgow’s Spitfire (LA198) hangs from the roof. Like most, I probably spend more time looking at this exhibit from the upper gallery, where you are closer to, and looking down on the aircraft from slightly above.

It’s possibly a little less noticeable from the gallery below, as the colouring of its underside tends to blend with the roof space, I think.

But I noticed it this time, mainly because you get a better feel for just how close the fit of the wingspan is within the width of the gallery – it would not have taken a lot to make it just to wide to fit, and they’d have to have modelled it after version with the chopped wing tips! There really was such a mod, which altered the handling and stability.

The view from below is interesting, as the aircraft is posed with its undercarriage lowered.

I find there’s always a slightly disconcerting aspect to such views, from below – in war, if you were ‘the enemy’ and saw that view, you were in the wrong place. That thought first occurred to me at the opening of Cumbernauld Airport, marked by the arrival of a Harrier, which we were able to watch during its whole approach run, For some reason, as I watched it, I started thinking “If this approach was for real, I’d be dead soon, and probably couldn’t do anything about it, not against a Harrier”.

Forget that.

I took this shot specifically to catch that wing tip clearance.

It’s not really that close, but it’s still close.

Spitfire Wing tip clearance

Spitfire Wing tip clearance

So, where’s the coincidence?


I’ve gone back to having an automatic link to new Atlas Obscura entries, and just after I took this pic, what was featured in the atlas?


Glasgow’s Spitfire (LA198)

And, if you check the link, you’ll find they have some pics from below too!

I deliberately avoided the frontal view (for the reason given above), but they got a really good one.

I think I may have to go back and recreate that one soon.


Nov 19, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, military, photography, Transport, World War II | , | Leave a comment

This made me think of Largs

Like many other coastal facilities, Largs was home to a seaplane base during World War II.

Largs Seaplane Base

So far, I haven’t come across any archive footage showing this, or similar Scottish coastal bases, such as say Greenock, in operation.

So, when this popped up in one of my other alert streams, and I saw this new Chinese seaplane operating from the ramp, it made me think of the many ramps I’d found over the years at such bases along the Scottish coast, now mostly abandoned and decaying if some other option has not found a use for them, such as a sailing club.

Nov 2, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Transport, World War II | , | 2 Comments

Crazy Cat Lady thrown off BA flight to Heathrow

People are weird.

Apparently so attached to her cat, a woman apparently hid it in a box, and then hid it in her bag.


Apparently she needed it for ’emotional support’ – but you have to wonder how much ‘support’ she’d get from her cat, slowly suffocating in her bag and obviously not able to be seen, let alone touched!

The American traveller managed to hide the flying feline in her hand luggage, claiming she needed it for ’emotional support’.

However staff on the British Airways flight to Heathrow refused to entertain her tale and she was told leave the plane, Daily Record reports.

The cat was reportedly hiding in a box in the woman’s bag. She was only caught out because, as she was sitting in an emergency exit row, she was told to put the bag in an overhead locker.

Passenger flung off Glasgow flight for sneaking on ’emotional support’ cat

Frankly, it’s a shame BA staff couldn’t have apprehended her and kept her while the Scottish SPCA and/or police were called to a case of animal cruelty.

As it was, it seems that she not only melted away somewhere into Glasgow Airport, but didn’t even try to catch another flight.

I hope she’s WALKING to London.

Rumour has it her name was Schrödinger, and this is the box they found the cat in.

Schrodinger's Cat


Interesting to note that this story also notes:

A BA spokeswoman said:

Cats cannot travel in the cabin but recognised assistance dogs travel free alongside their owners.

Other animals need to travel in the hold.

So, where’s the campaign to have this inequality corrected?


Oct 25, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Great news as ‘Electric Flight’ could begin in Scotland

Nice to see news that Scotland could be first place to have commercial passenger flights using electric aircraft.

Not so nice to see that the only comments the article attracted were from the usual morons (they’re embarrassing, if the rest of the world sees them and thinks they are representative of Scottish education/science/engineering).

It’s a few years since I last looked at the electric flight specials being developed by companies such as GE and Siemens (I suggest having a search on their web sites for current developments if interested, rather than reading anything from clueless/embarrassing ‘Scottish Scientist’), and I think it was as far back as 2015 that a couple of electric aircraft prototypes made the first Channel crossing. Last time I looked, development of passenger aircraft with capacities of up to 50 was underway.

There are no specific details given of the aircraft proposed for the Orkney route.

Islanders on Orkney may soon be part of another world first with plans to introduce electric planes on the shortest passenger flight on record.

Loganair hopes to make the 90-second trip between Westray and Papa Westray electric within three years.

This would beat their rivals Easyjet which has a 2027 target for introducing an electric fleet.

World’s shortest flight could be an electric first for Orkney

I hope this story doesn’t just evaporate.

Papa Westray Flight

Papa Westray Flight

Oct 22, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Clutha back in the news

The inquiry is due to start in April and will take place at Hampden Park, and could last at least six months.

Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull, who is overseeing the FAI, said it will be “lengthy and complex.”

Seven customers, the pilot and two crew members were killed when the Police Scotland helicopter crashed on to the roof of the Clutha pub in Glasgow on 29 November 2013.

The first of three preliminary hearings ahead of the full fatal accident inquiry (FAI) took place at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow on Wednesday.

As an air accident, there is data available.


Roddy Dunlop QC, representing aeronautics company Airbus, told the hearing there was a compilation of footage that would be available for the inquiry.

He said: “I have seen and have shown to the Crown a video simulation which has been compiled by Airbus which attempts to provide a graphic depiction of the flight and events in the cockpit during the flight, that has been put together from the data available post crash from, for example, the non-volatile memory which was able to be interrogated post crash.

“In my submission, that will be of some assistance to your lordship, and indeed to participants, in understanding what was happening in the course of the fatal flight.”

3D Interactive Model
Procurator fiscal depute Sean Smith QC said he was looking into the feasibility of a 3D interactive model of a helicopter.

He said: “It may assist the court so that one can see at a glance what’s being referred to.”

A simulation of fatal Clutha flight to be shown at FAI


A pilot who flew a police helicopter hours before it crashed into the Clutha pub will be represented at the Fatal Accident Inquiry.

A hearing took place at Glasgow Sheriff Court to allow anyone with an interest to apply to participate.

Handover pilot allowed to appear before Clutha Inquiry

The Clutha Bar As Was

The Clutha Bar As Was

Oct 4, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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

Aug 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

Aug 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

Jul 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

Jul 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

Jul 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

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

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