Historic Scotland plaque honours an island’s aviation pioneer
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.’