One of the only aircraft to have been designed and built in Scotland will return to the skies under plans to celebrate the country’s aviation heritage, The Scotsman has learned.
Organisers of a new air festival in Ayrshire want to get a 54-year-old Twin Pioneer airborne again to inspire a new generation of engineers.
The Prestwick World Festival of Flight hopes to build on its inaugural ten-day programme this August by returning one of the few “Twin Pins” still airworthy to where it was built.
Nearly 100 were manufactured by Scottish Aviation at Prestwick, with the town’s continued importance to the aerospace industry being highlighted by the festival.
Organisers hope to acquire a Twin Pioneer owned by the Newquay-based Classic Aircraft Trust.
The plane, which last visited Prestwick in 2005, was grounded six years ago because of fatigue in its wing attachment struts. Only one other is thought to be still flying, in Australia.
The aircraft’s large wings made it a forerunner of the Harrier jump jet by being able to take off and land on very short runways.
Nearly 40 were ordered by the RAF in the 1950s and used in Aden and the jungles of Borneo.
Festival chairman George Kerevan said: “It was able to land on a postage stamp. It had lots of ‘lift’ in its wings, so operated well in hot climates where there was not enough air for helicopters to grip on to.
“It’s absurd that Scotland, with its engineering and aviation heritage, does not have a flying example of the ‘Twin Pin’.
“It would be a flying advert for what Scottish engineering could do. We would like to see people up in it.”
Trevor Bailey, aviation director of Air Atlantique, which operates the aircraft for the trust, said: “We hope we can get it back into the air by next year, which would allow it to transport passengers.”
The festival is being launched to celebrate a century of flying since a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) biplane landed at nearby Monkton in 1913. Events will include an airshow, aircraft on display, films and exhibitions.
Festival organisers hope to emulate the air shows held at the airport for 25 years until 1992, which attracted up to 100,000 spectators.
Mr Kerevan said: “There’s a blindspot in Scotland. We celebrate our shipbuilding and engineering tradition, but not aviation. That’s what the festival will be about. No one has grasped the potential for aviation heritage tourism in Scotland.
“The only place in Britain to do it is Lincolnshire, which attracts 100,000 visitors a year to its former Bomber Command airfields.”
Mr Kerevan said a further draw could be to build on the airport’s fame as the only place in Britain visited by Elvis Presley, en route to military service in Germany in 1960.