Volunteers sought to sew wing covers of replica plane at Montrose Air Station

Brian Crozier demonstrates the stitching required on the biplane wings
Brian Crozier demonstrates the stitching required on the biplane wings

Staff at the Montrose Air Station Museum are appealing to nimble fingered volunteers to help them cover the wooden wings of an aeroplane replica.

The lightweight skeletons of wooden batons were traditionally first covered with fine linen before it was varnished with animal glue to hold the shape and then stitched in place.

This allowed strength without weight.

The BE2a biplane replica is waiting for an enthusiastic sewing team to stitch the material onto the two 37ft wings. Neil Werninck, a volunteer at the Air Station said: “Although the sewing was undertaken by experienced dress makers one hundred years ago, I am sure that it can be done by anyone once the basic technique is learned.”

Neil Werninck together with Brian Crozier who are overseeing the project are keen for anyone with a few hours spare to help with the sewing.

Full instructions will be given and it is hoped the wings can be finished in a few weeks. Friday, November 20, at 11am is the time to arrive at the Museum to help with the task and special thick needles and strong thread will be provided.

The stitching needs to pass through the whole wing but is made easier by the shape of the needle. The air station enthusiasts have a wealth of knowledge to share so the sewing should progress quickly; Neil Butler, a visiting air station member who works for Logan Air in Aberdeen has been giving hints and tips to the team as he has his own aircraft made from the same materials.

The team have a photograph from 1915 of Montrose ex-seamstresses at work on the same wings. Many people were required to complete the work in the wartime.

The volunteers have sourced rolls of cotton calico to finish the wings, the traditional linen proved impossible to find but they are sure this will work just as well.

The engine of the biplane is partly finished and pieces are being found in places as far as Australia to complete the project.

However the plane, although adhering to the original design as closely as possible, will never take to the skies; to build a working model would take over £100,000, ten times the budget available at the museum. Call 01674 678222 for more information.