Montrose Air Station celebrates unveiling of replica WWI biplane

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A replica of the first British aircraft to land in France following the outbreak of World War One was unveiled today in Montrose.

On August 2, 1914, a BE2 piloted by No 2 Squadron’s Lieutenant Harvey-Kelly left Montrose Air Station and became the first British aircraft to land in France.

Pictured are Wing Commander Roger Elliot; Myles Harvey-Kelly, the great nephew of Lt Harvey-Kelly; Declan Harvey-Kelly, the great-great nephew of Lt Harvey Kelly; and Air Vice-Marshal Ross Patterson.

Pictured are Wing Commander Roger Elliot; Myles Harvey-Kelly, the great nephew of Lt Harvey-Kelly; Declan Harvey-Kelly, the great-great nephew of Lt Harvey Kelly; and Air Vice-Marshal Ross Patterson.

A two-year project to build a replica of Lt Harvey-Kelly’s biplane came to a high-flying end today (Friday, August 12).

The BE2, which has been constructed by a team of volunteers at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, was unveiled at a private ceremony for 150 guests this morning.

Among the guests was a strong RAF contingent, both serving and retired, Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre members and volunteers, and the families of several of the British pilots who flew from Montrose Air Station from 1914 to 1918.

Relatives who attend the unveiling of the replica BE2 included Simon Burke, grandson of Major Burke, CO of Montrose Air Station’s original squadron (No2 Squadron); relatives of Lt John Ross Robertson, the pilot whose name has been given to the new World War One building at Montrose Air Station; and the great nephew and great-great nephew of Lt Harvey-Kelly.

Myles Harvey-Kelly, Lt Harvey-Kelly’s great nephew, said attending the special event made him feel “very proud” of his great uncle.

To celebrate the addition of the replica BE2 to Montrose Air Station’s display of military aircraft and vehicles, the heritage centre is open free of charge this Saturday and Sunday.

Over the two days, Lt Harvey-Kelly’s BE2 will make its first public appearances.

There will be two performances of Betty Doe’s acclaimed play ‘Falls The Shadow’ by a group of professional actors tomorrow (Saturday, August 13).

The play, was inspired by the story of Lt Desmond Arthur, who is said to be the ghost of Montrose Air Station.

Lt Desmond Arthur of the Royal Flying Corps was killed in 1913, when his biplane crashed on a training flight at nearby Lunan Bay.

Over the years, there have been eyewitness claims of menacing footsteps, mysterious mumbled conversations, ghostly apparitions in First World War flying suits and the sound of a phantom plane flying overhead.

Nick Arthur, the great nephew of Lt Desmond Arthur, also attended the unveiling of the replica BE2 today.

‘Falls The Shadow’ will be performed at 11am and 2pm on Saturday.