Prestwick Airport honours Scotland’s aviation champions

In a new Hall of Fame, Prestwick Airport in Scotland will honour those key figures in aeronautics and engineering that led the development of Scottish aviation.

The initiative was launched on July 25, which marks the 100th anniversary of flights from the Ayrshire airport. It is part of the run-up to the inaugural Prestwick World Festival of Flight next month. Similar halls have been established in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Among the first to take their place in the Hall of Fame is Winifred Drinkwater, who captained a Glasgow to Campbeltown flight for Midland and Scottish Air Ferries in April 1933, becoming the first woman to pilot a scheduled service.

The others to be honoured include David McIntyre and Douglas Douglas-Hamilton – two of the most significant figures in the development of Scottish aviation, who launched the aircraft firm, Scottish Aviation, and Prestwick Airport after completing the first flight over Everest. Also recognised are Sir Robert Watson-Watt, who pioneered the development of radar, and test pilot Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, who flew more aircraft types than anyone, and made the first jet aircraft landing on an aircraft carrier.

Festival chair and co-curator, George Kerevan, said: ‘Scotland is very bad at recognising its achievements in the field of aviation or the people who made them. We had the first female commercial airline pilot, the world’s greatest test pilot, Scots were the first to fly over Everest and a Scot invented radar. The Scottish Aviation Hall of Fame seeks to honour these achievements and inspire the next generation.’

National Museums Scotland also supported the initiative. Principal curator of transport, Louise Innes, said: ‘We are delighted to see the pioneers of Scottish aviation being honoured in this way. We are especially pleased to see Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton, receiving recognition in the Hall of Fame as we display products from Scottish Aviation, the company founded by him and fellow inductee David McIntyre, including the Twin Pioneer and the Jetstream, at our National Museum of Flight in East Lothian.’

After Prestwick’s expansion to handle incoming US and Canadian military aircraft during the Second World War, the airport became a transatlantic passenger gateway. It remains the centre of the Scottish aerospace industry, employing 9,000 people.

The flypast on July 25 will commemorate Prestwick’s flying centenary. The Prestwick World Festival of Flight runs from August 30 to September 8, and is set to become an annual celebration of Scottish aviation. Dubbed ‘the world’s first true festival of flight,’ it will include air displays, film and book events, drama and music.

Kerevan said: ‘It will be an exciting new way of exploring aviation and space travel. We have planes, pilots, films, books, music, history and debates over ten days. We want to get young people to think about a career in aerospace.’