Heritage Centre visit by Mearns Probus Club

Mearns Probus Club’s first meeting of November was a visit to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre.

Members travelled there in their own transport and were met by one of the guides at the Centre, who like many others gives freely of his time to support this venture.

The airfield has been in use for more than 100 years, but for the first two years or so it was situated at Dysart, a few miles south of Montrose. It then moved to its present site on the north side, now forming part of the Industrial and Business complex there.

The original huts are still in use and now additional buildings have been added. Within the buildings there is a huge collection of memorabilia including photographs, pilot’s clothing, boots and even a pair of saddlebags which one flyer brought from a camel he rode on before transferring his army regiment to the R.F.C.

The Royal Flying Corps was established some years before the R.A.F. came into being, mainly because of the build up of aircraft in Germany prior to World War I in 1914.

Many hundreds of young flyers from around the world came to Montrose to learn to fly. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa all had young men at the station there.

Unfortunately, many lost their lives in training, a fact that can be seen by the many gravestones at Sleepyhillock cemetery. Planes were unreliable and night flying was extremely dangerous as there was no radio communication available to guide or assist the trainees.

On one picture at the Centre it states, “One accident each day and one funeral every week”.

However, after only a few hours training, the same young men were flying over France and the Low Countries within the next few weeks.

Outside there is a Meteor aircraft and inside there is a Mosquito plane, which was the fastest fighter in WWII from 1940-1944. One of our members present, Bill Innes from near Auchenblae actually flew this type of aircraft during his wartime service.

There is even a small Microlite plane on display which the Cadets have repainted in the colours of the famous Red Baron, who accounted for many of the planes destroyed in the first war.

Kirriemuir had a small museum of flight until a few years ago when the owner died. This collection has been transferred to Montrose and can be partly seen in one of the buildings.

After an interesting and enjoyable visit, club members adjourned to the Park Hotel for an excellent lunch and refreshments.

The next meeting, on Monday 21st is at the Crown Inn, Laurencekirk at 10am, with business commencing at 10.30am.