YOUNG visitors to Montrose Air Station will now enjoy an enhanced experience thanks to a major project undertaken by the museum to add to its education facilities.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, ‘Training Pilots for War’ has charted the development of the former air station as a training base pilots in both world wars.
The project has involved the development of several new and important features and new display material has been designed by Iain Burt from Stonehaven, drawing inspiration from the experiences of young pilots, as well as interactive material which gives hands-on experience that children, and many adults, enjoy.
A touchscreen enables visitors to start up a Merlin engine, used in Spitfires and Hurricanes, while a computer-based flight simulator gives them an opportunity to fly a whole range of different aircraft. They can compare this technology with the Link trainer, the flight simulator used by the RAF in the war years, restored to working order by the heritage centre’s volunteers.
Several new exhibits have been added to the display including a Vampire advanced trainer developed from one of Britain’s first jets and children can put on flying helmet and goggles and climb into the cockpit of the ‘Red Baron’, a real flying biplane, painted red with black crosses in the style of Manfred von Richthofen, the famous German “ace” of the First World War.
Curator Daniel Paton said: “The idea is that visitors can have fun but there is a serious purpose as well. A key feature of the project is the new Children’s Learning Zone, an area screened off and equipped with seats and tables where visiting children can enjoy themselves making and drawing.
“New learning material has been designed by Aileen and Mandy Philip, teachers from Aberdeenshire, to help visiting children enjoy and learn from their visit. Hundreds of children from Angus and Aberdeenshire schools and youth organisations have visited this year, entirely free of charge.”
Saturday’s event was attended by teachers from Angus and Aberdeenshire so they could give their verdict on what the centre is doing for young visitors as well as representatives from Angus Council, which has continually supported the heritage centre, and veterans of RAF Montrose.
Mr Paton added: “More exciting developments at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre are in the pipeline as volunteers plan for the centenary of the foundation of RFC/RAF Montrose in 2013. Montrose Air Station is an important aviation heritage site and dates back to the very early days of flying. It has an important collection of material covering both world wars of the 20th century.”