His­toric Scot­land plaque hon­ours an is­land’s avi­a­tion pi­o­neer

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

AF­TER sev­eral years of lo­cal cam­paign­ing, Rothe­say black­smith An­drew Blain Baird, who made the first at­tempted all- Scot­tish heav­ier than air pow­ered flight on Septem­ber 17, 1910, is to be hon­oured by a His­toric Scot­land plaque.

Baird de­signed and built his own plane and flew it at Et­trick Bay on the is­land on a sin­gle oc­ca­sion.

Com­mem­o­ra­tion of the achieve­ment started in 2010 when Chris Mark­well, who has spent most of his life in Canada, or­gan­ised and funded a cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tion which in­cluded a visit to the is­land by a num­ber of small planes which used the grass airstrip at Kin­garth.

This fly-in has now be­come the cen­tre piece of a two- day fes­ti­val of events and Mr Mark­well has also founded a Baird of Bute So­ci­ety, which not only seeks to mark the event, but has de­vel­oped a se­ries of avi­a­tion awards and schol­ar­ships for young sci­en­tists.

These in­clude a unique pro­gramme which has al­lowed able and as­pi­ra­tional young sci­en­tists in their fi­nal year at school to visit and study with world-lead­ing sci­en­tists in Canada.

Lord Smith of Kelvin re­cently be­came pres­i­dent of the so­ci­ety and a board of trustees in­clud­ing MSP Michael Rus­sell and for­mer di­rec­tor of the Glas­gow School of Art and lead­ing avi­a­tion artist, Pro­fes­sor Du­gald Cameron, is also now in place.

Mr Mark­well said: ‘This is a great hon­our for the is­land and for Baird.

‘Bute is at last re­ceiv­ing recog­ni­tion by a na­tional body for its place in Scot­tish avi­a­tion history and An­drew Blain Baird is now of­fi­cially ac­cepted as the first Scot who built and at­tempted to fly an aero­plane.

‘The plaque will re­mind lo­cals and visi­tors of his achieve­ment but will also, I hope, draw the at­ten­tion of young peo­ple and make them as­pire to in­no­va­tion, imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­ity which are the key in­gre­di­ents for suc­cess and which the Baird of Bute So­ci­ety ex­ists to pro­mote.’

The plaque, pro­duced and pro­vided by His­toric Scot­land, reads: ‘An­drew Blain Baird, Black­smith and Avi­a­tion Pi­o­neer 1862-1951 in this drill hall in 1910 built an air­craft in which he made the first at­tempted all- Scot­tish heav­ier-than-air pow­ered flight.’

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