A profile of the Royal Aeronautical Society's Prestwick Branch.
[caption id="attachment_7993" align="alignnone" width="403"] Prestwick Branch members and the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer.[/caption] During the late 1950s, Society members from the local area tried unsuccessfully to integrate with the Glasgow Branch. This was due to logistical reasons and therefore a movement was started in the Scottish Aviation Design Office to form a Prestwick Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society. This culminated in a gathering of members from local organisations and other interested parties wishing to form a branch. A steering committee was formed, charged with negotiating with the Main Society and, if successful, producing a constitution, rules and a programme for the coming autumn. On 18 July 1962, formal approval was given by the Royal Aeronautical Society to form the Prestwick Branch and the first general meeting was held on 30 August 1962. It was here that the Branch Rules and Constitution were presented and accepted. Prestwick proved to be an ideal location for a branch, having a functioning airport, an aircraft manufacturing business, a significant military presence and a major air traffic control operation. The reason that the infrastructure and the airfield itself existed and was evolving stemmed from the ideas and drive of a young Flight Lieutenant with 602 Squadron, RAF, David Fowler McIntyre. David was a visionary who had been a major player in the team that made the first successful flight over Mount Everest in 1933. He, unlike so many of his contemporaries, saw the need to prepare for the coming conflict and successfully petitioned the Air Ministry government to be allowed to acquire land for an airfield, initially for flight training. David became Managing Director of Scottish Aviation and Controller of the Airport. Thus, it was natural to choose David McIntyre for the Prestwick Branch named lecture. [caption id="attachment_7994" align="alignnone" width="387"] The Branch has strong links with Glasgow Prestwick Airport. (Glasgow Prestwick Airport).[/caption] Various past Chairmen confirm that the Prestwick Branch was extraordinarily active and innovative and usually punched above its weight. Well supported by local industry, the Branch has always offered a wide ranging lecture programme each year (usually eight, but exceptionally nine or even ten). These cover the whole gamut of aerospace and related subjects, and are well received by the large, well informed and enthusiastic audience, many of whom are ex-flight crew. Lectures are held in the Aviator Suite within the terminal building at Prestwick Airport on the second Monday of the month, from September until April. The November lecture is held jointly with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. There is also an active Branch Library, a comprehensive visits programme, a monthly newsletter (published throughout the lecture season) and a website (www.raesprestwick.org.uk). Despite the travel involved, the Branch has provided an active member of the Branches Committee for many years. Prestwick also supports and manages one off events, for example:
  • a)            Branch members were involved in the construction of a full-size replica of Percy Pilcher’s Bat ‘Mk 2’ glider that flew from Cardross in 1895, which is now displayed in the new Riverside Museum in Glasgow.
  • b)            As part of anniversaries surrounding the 100th anniversary of ‘Powered Flight’ the Branch was heavily involved in an attempt to erect a memorial to Pilcher near Cardross.
  • c)            In 2005, the Branch made a contribution to the events celebrating the 800th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to Ayr through its Aviation Ayrshire 2005 initiative. This identified and implemented a number of local aviation related events, the highlight of which was bringing the only flying Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer back to Prestwick, and re-enacting the original 1955 ‘roll-out’.
  • d)            Prestwick has held four significant Branches Conferences.
[caption id="attachment_7995" align="alignnone" width="333"] Branch members were involved in the construction of this replica Percy Pilcher’s Bat ‘Mk 2’ glider.[/caption] The Branch has always been very conscious of the importance of reaching out to local industry, academia and to young people to enthuse them in matters aeronautical. Operating a Branch 400 miles from Hamilton Place requires commitment and skill. Over the years tenacity and often sheer bloody mindedness has enabled the Branch to survive and even to grow — even during times when no financial support was forthcoming.

Prestwick Branch Committee, 2012

President            Professor Dugald Cameron, OBE, CRAeS Vice President   John R Hopkins, CEng, FRAeS Chairman             Len Houston, MRAeS Vice Chairman   David Lacey, CEng, MIET, MRAeS and Secretary Treasurer            Ian Adams, MRAeS Lecture Secretary            Quentin Wilson, CEng, MRAeS Membership      David Coldbeck, CEng, MRAeS Secretary Visits Secretary Ray Draper Librarian               John Russell Plus        Jim Hood, Stephen Kunz, John Wragg
Branch history Established         1962 Named Lecture D F McIntyre Lecture Website: www.raesprestwick.org.uk


Vice Chairman   David Lacey and Secretary     T +44 (0)1505 612695 Email david_lacey@btopenworld.com
This is an  article orginally published in The Aerospace Professional

Royal Aeronautical Society
12 April 2013