Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson, who is the RAF’s lead representative in Scotland had the honour of opening the centre.
AVM Paterson was accompanied by Group Captain Jim Leggat, responsible for Air Cadets within Scotland and Northern Ireland Region, and Wing Commander Jim Haley, commanding Air Cadets across the West of Scotland.
A total of 120 staff and cadets were in attendance to line the route and provide a ceremonial parade and Guard of Honour. AVM Paterson then inspected the cadets and the wing’s assistant chaplain, Rev Aftab Gofar then performed a blessing of the new wing activity centre, before the plaque was unveiled by AVM Paterson.
He said: “I’m extremely proud and delighted to open this new centre, I hope you all enjoy your time here and the cadets benefit greatly from the training provided.”
A flypast from HMS Gannet, of a Sea King helicopter, completed the ceremony.
After a short lunch, the AVM then inspected the centre. He was very impressed by the standard of accommodation for the cadets, which consists of three six-man rooms with ensuite facilities. He also got the chance to view first hand cadets being trained on the tutor flight simulator; this will enable them to make best use of their actual flights in the aircraft.
Cadets also demonstrated their use of the handheld radios, surprising the AVM with their proficiency after just one lesson.
The centre has been named after Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Archie McKellar, one of Glasgow’s own flying aces of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He was born in Paisley and was later a pupil at Shawlands Academy. He then worked as a plasterer but joined the Scottish Flying Club and obtained his pilot’s license.
In 1936, aged 24, Archie joined the Royal Auxilliary Air Force (Raux.AF) and began pilot training. He completed his training in 1938 and was assigned to No. 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron Raux. AF. Also at this time, he was a volunteer member of the local 32F (1st Glasgow) Squadron of Air Cadets, located next to the Army Reserve Centre in King’s Park.
Then in 1939 he converted to Spitfires and experienced his first combat, credited with two victories soon after the outbreak of war against German bombers attacking Royal Navy ships and installations over northern Britain.
Sqn Ldr McKellar’s first victory earned him the distinction of being the first pilot to shoot down a German aircraft over the British Isles during the war. He was responsible for shooting down 21 German aircraft but was sadly killed in aerial combat in November 1940, just two hours after the Battle of Britain officially ended.
He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his valour. Family members of Sqn Ldr McKellar, his cousins and their partners, proudly attended the ceremony on his behalf.
Local Air Cadets from 32F (1st Glasgow) Squadron were jointly responsible for naming the centre along with 49F Greenock (MacRoberts Reply) Squadron. Both squadrons suggested the name of Archie McKellar as part of a competition to name the centre and both squadrons were the first to experience an activity camp this weekend as their prize.
Flight Lieutenant Colin Miller, Commanding Officer of 32F, said: “I first heard of Sqn Ldr McKellar’s feats through his association with our squadron. It’s only fitting that his determination and fighting spirit live on through this activity centre to inspire a new generation.”
The King’s Park squadron, 32F (1st Glasgow), is currently looking for new members to join. They offer flying, gliding, target shooting, sports, camps, adventure training and much more.
Anyone who is at least 12-years-old and in S2 or 13 years and over and is interested in joining the Air Cadets, can go along to the Army Reserve Centre, at 155 Carmunnock Road. They parade on Mondays and Fridays at 7.30 pm.
Telephone 0141 633 3533, email 32@ aircadets.org or visit them on Facebook, www.facebook.com/32Fsquadron, for further information.
Flying high Sea King from HMS Gannet conducts a flypast of the new centre with the cadets watching Flying high Sergeant Chloe McCloud of 32F (1st Glasgow) Squadron flying the Tutor Flight Simulator in front of AVM Paterson and her Instructor, Sergeant Andrew McGuire of 62 (2nd Glasgow-North West) Squadron at the new Air Cadet activity centre
Picture perfect Wing Commander (Wg Cmdr) Jim Haley shows AVM Paterson around the new Air Cadet activity centre is inspected by the special visitors in Cambuslang
Unveiling AVM Paterson unveils the plaque at the new Air Cadet activity centre, next to the existing Cadet Centre on Gilbertfield Road in Cambuslang