Preserving Aviation History in Dumfries and Galloway
In the early 1970s a group of aviation enthusiasts decided to excavate the site where a Wellington bomber (HE 746) crashed near the RAF Dumfries airfield on the night of 3/4 June 1943, killing three of the crew and seriously injuring two others. The official report at the time stated that the debris of the aircraft had been cleared, but rumours persisted that the bomber’s engines were still on site. Initial attempts to unearth the engines were unsuccessful and a local contracting firm was brought in to continue excavating, with the result being that two Bristol Hercules engines were recovered. One of the engines had its wooden propeller intact, and visitors today can view this artifact which was the beginning of the collection that led to the formation of the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.
Excavations continued over the next two years, with many other items being recovered, and in early 1976 the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Group was formed to organize a venue to display the items to the public. The old RAF airfield was the obvious choice and the building which was once a pilot’s flight hut was set up to display the growing collection. By 1979, the collection had grown to the extent that the museum moved into the renovated three-storey control tower of the airfield, where it is still located today.
Visitors to the museum will find a collection of aircraft engines and aircraft models on the ground floor of the museum building, with the first floor housing displays of aviation-related memorabilia, including items recovered from a crash site. The top floor features the recreated scene of a wartime operations room, with figures of controllers and pilots.
The aircraft collection at the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum includes an English Electric Canberra WJ 880; Gloster Meteor T7 WL375; Jetstream T1 XX483; Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer XT 280; Bristol Sycamore WA576; Hawker Siddeley Trident G-AWZJ; Hawker Hunter F4 WT746; North American F-100D, Jet Provost T4 XP557; English Electric Lightning F.53 ZF584 and Wessex HU.5 XT486.
A separate building at the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum site displays memorabilia relating to the Airborne Forces and Parachute Regiment. Items visitors can expect to see include uniforms, parachutes, a range of weaponry, a section of fuselage of an Airspeed Horsa glider, as well as recreated scenes from World War II, such as a kitchen, shop and bomb shelter.