A century of powered flight

PIECE OF HISTORY: Pioneer aviators Any Johnson and Jim Mollison pictured on a visit to the island in 1933.

PIECE OF HISTORY: Pioneer aviators Any Johnson and Jim Mollison pictured on a visit to the island in 1933.

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THE first powered flight in the Isle of Man took place on the afternoon of July 4, 1911, when pioneer aviator Claude Grahame-White took off from Noble’s Park in his fragile biplane.

The Manx Aviation and Military Museum, at Ronaldsway, is celebrating this centenary with an exhibition of photographs ranging from a picture of the very first aeroplane to fly here, to a picture of the Isle of Man taken from the Space Shuttle Discovery on its final mission earlier this year.

Museum director Ivor Ramsden said: ‘We have many hundreds of historic photographic gems in our archives. The exhibition captures the development of commercial aviation here during the 1920s and 30s, the grim wartime years when the island’s skies were crowded with military aircraft, and the post-war era when many ex-military aeroplanes were modified for civilian use with the newly-formed airlines like BEA.’

The Space Shuttle Discovery went into orbit last year with a strong Manx connection – there was a Manx flag on board and a copy of Davy Knowles’ album, thanks to astronaut Nicole Stott, who is married to Manxman Chris Stott.

The exhibition opens on Saturday (July 2) and will run until October 31. Mr Ramsden encourages people to bring along their own photographs and trinkets:

‘We have collected hundreds of pictures and we welcome donations of any military and aviation memorabilia,’ he said. ‘It might just turn out to be the missing link in one of the many stories that we tell in the museum.’

The museum is open every weekend from 10am to 4.30pm. Admission is free. There will be free guided tours of the museum and the exhibition on Sunday, July 3. Tours will start on the hour from 10am.

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