Relatives of ‘First In France’ pilot to attend commemoration event in Montrose

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The relatives of a pilot who flew the first British aircraft to land in France following the outbreak of World War One are to attend the unveiling of a replica of his biplane in Montrose.

The great nephew and great-great nephew of Lt Harvey-Kelly will see the aircraft revealed at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre on Friday, August 12.

Myles Harvey-Kelly, who lives in Bristol, said: “I grew up knowing about the flight from Montrose to Amiens my great uncle, Lt Harvey-Kelly of No 2 Squadron, made in 1914, when he became known as ‘The First In France’.

“I’ve always had a keen interest in flight and, when my children were little, I took them to the Imperial War Museum, where a plaque to Lt Harvey-Kelly was on display alongside a BE2 aircraft.

“However, it was only over the last 10 years or so that I started researching Lt Harvey-Kelly’s life, which is how I got in touch with the team of volunteers who run Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre.”

Myles will be joined on his visit to Montrose Air Station by his son, who shares his interest in aviation and is a qualified glider pilot.

Myles continued: “We’re really looking forward to attending the unveiling of the replica of our famous relative’s BE2.

“This will be our first visit to Montrose Air Station. It will be fascinating to see the other vintage aircraft in the hangars, and the Spitfire at the gate, to visit buildings which our famous relative would have known, to walk across the remains of the airfield he flew from, and to spend time in the town he would have flown over on his way to France, where Lt Harvey-Kelly would later lose his life in a dog fight.”

The roll-out event will also be attended by other relatives of pilots who were based at Montrose Air Station in its early days, including Simon Burke, grandson of Major Burke, the Commanding Officer of No 2 Squadron in 1914. The ceremony is to be strongly supported by the RAF and a contingent from today’s No 2 Squadron will be in attendance, along with other RAF representatives.

It will be opened by Air Marshal Sir David Walker, honorary president of Montrose Air Station.

Due to the number of heritage centre members and invited guests expected to attend on August 12, the museum will be closed to the public that day. However, it will be open free of charge on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14 for its War In The Air event.

Over the two days, Lt Harvey-Kelly’s BE2 will make its first public appearances, there will be play is inspired by the story of the ghost of Montrose airfield and opportunities to view the centre’s new exhibitions on The War In The Air, 1914 to 1918.