When an organisation such as the Royal Air Force celebrates its centenary, there are many ways in which the event can be marked. The Royal Air Force's 100th Anniversary was marked in a number of different ways and this Scottish Aviation and STEM Trail is just one of them.
This Trail sets out to commemorate Scotland’s rich aviation heritage both Military and Civil. The Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have all played their part in creating this heritage as have many Civil aviators, engineers and manufacturers.
Today, most of the visible infrastructure is in the form of Civil Airports and local airfields. There are still military air bases in Scotland - although not as many as there once were.
Airfields of all sorts are the features that most people think of. However, there are many aviation and aviation related features to be found all over the country. Some are still in use – and others are memories of the past.
There are radar stations, flying boat bases, Air Sea Rescue bases, memorials, factories and many more. Amongst the most important places are the Museums – in these places the past is remembered through exhibits - through interpretation and displays – and in some cases through the site on which the museum is situated.
It is also important that we remember the people associated with our aviation heritage. There are people who were pioneers of flight, taking to the air in the flimsiest of contraptions – and sometimes losing their lives in the process. A replica of a very early aircraft built by Preston Watson is on display in Dundee.
There were people of great engineering and business talent who created the machines that flew. David McIntyre was one of the first to fly over Everest and also set up an aircraft factory at Prestwick. Scottish Aviation Ltd is now part of BAe Systems.
There were great leaders – the operational head of the Royal Flying Corps – General Sir David Henderson and the mastermind of victory in the Battle of Britain – Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding were both Scots.
In the STEM field, many Scots have been involved in far reaching developments. One of the best known is Sir Robert Watson-Watt who invented radar. Some of the companies engaged in cutting edge aviation related technology have bases in Scotland.
Up and down the country there have been thousands of people involved in all aspects of aviation – pilots, navigators, engineers, scientists, airfield and airport staff, air traffic controllers – and the list goes on.