Replica plane project at Montrose comes to high-flying end

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

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A two-year project to build a replica of one of the biplanes which flew from Montrose Air Station to France at the beginning of World War One will come to a high-flying end on Friday.

A replica BE2, which has been constructed by a team of volunteers at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, will be unveiled at a private ceremony for 150 guests.

Among the guests will be 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 attending the unveiling of the replica BE2 will include 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, whose BE2 was the first British aircraft to land in France.

Historian Dr Dan Paton, curator of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said: “We are also looking forward to welcoming Nick Arthur, the great nephew of Lt Desmond Arthur, the pilot who many people believe to be the ghost of Montrose Air Station.”

To celebrate the addition of the replica BE2 to Montrose Air Station’s highly impressive display of military aircraft and vehicles, on Saturday, August 13, the award-winning Heritage Centre is offering free entry to its War In The Air event from 10am until 4pm.

Dan added: “As well as the opportunity to study our replica BE2 and the other aircraft and vehicles in our hangars, on Saturday, visitors will be able to see vintage aircraft on the old airfield, which is adjacent to the Heritage Centre.”

There will also be a variety of special activities, including two performances of Betty Doe’s acclaimed play ‘Falls The Shadow’ by a group of professional actors.

The play, which was inspired by the story of Lt Desmond Arthur, will be performed at 11am and 2pm on Saturday, August 13.

Dan continued: “Sunday, August 14, will also feature free admission to the centre and its exhibitions, displays and recreated 1940s’ living room, pilot’s quarters and air raid shelter.

“And although there will be no additional activities on that day, tea and cakes will be available in the library.”

For more information about Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre’s War In The Air event on August 13 and 14, visit www.rafmontrose.org.uk.