Montrose Air Station to commemorate Royal Flying Corps

Lt Harvey-Kelly (sitting by the haystack), the first British pilot to land in France, takes a short break in a Yorkshire field during his August 1914 flight from RFC Montrose to France.
Lt Harvey-Kelly (sitting by the haystack), the first British pilot to land in France, takes a short break in a Yorkshire field during his August 1914 flight from RFC Montrose to France.

The Royal Flying Corps’ time at Montrose will be commemorated this weekend as Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre throws open its gates.

As part of the Scotland-wide Festival of Museums, there will be free entry to the award-winning museum on Saturday and Sunday.

Dan Paton, curator of the heritage centre, said: “The Royal Flying Corps was the forerunner to the RAF.

“Their No 2 Squadron flew into Montrose in the lead up to World War One to establish the UK’s first military air base.”

Dan added that, as well as the exhibitions and recreated wartime rooms in the air station’s historic hangers and barracks, over the weekend, there will be a programme of special events and activities, including the chance to watch the air station’s team of dedicated volunteers building the replica of a “very significant” World War One aircraft.

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

“Work is progressing very well with our replica BE2 and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to the hanger where construction work is taking place.”

The heritage centre will be unveiling the completed BE2 at a special event in August.

It will complement the air station’s replica Sopwith Camel, the most famous British fighter of World War One.

Visitors this weekend can also expect to see wartime re-enactment groups and vintage military vehicles.

There will also be information and advice about tracing and researching relatives who served in the armed forces, as well as the opportunity to commemorate wartime ancestors on the air station’s poignant poppy wall.

There will be opportunities to sit in the cockpit of Montrose Air Station’s replica Spitfire and to take a short drive in a vintage RAF Staff car.

Younger visitors can also dress up in vintage uniforms and make models.

Tea and cakes will be served in the air station’s library.

The heritage centre is supported by Angus Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and a range of other grant-awarding bodies and individual donations.