On the night of 3/4 June 1943, a Wellington bomber (HE 746) was on a flight from RAF Wing near Leighton Buzzard when it suffered a failure to one of its Bristol Hercules engines. The crew advised flying control at RAF Dumfries of their situation and requested an emergency landing; unfortunately the aircraft crashed 1½ miles from the airfield runway. Three of the crew were killed and two others were seriously injured. This aircraft was to become the catalyst for the foundation of the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.
Thirty years on, a small group of aviation enthusiasts heard of the crash site. Although official records stated that the wreckage had been cleared, rumours abounded of the engines being still on the site. Attempts to dig up the engines took place during the winter of 1973-74 without success, however, with the help of a local contracting firm the two Bristol Hercules engines were brought to the surface, one of which still had its wooden propeller. This engine has been the star of our aero engine collection ever since, being widely regarded as one of the finest recovered engines in the United Kingdom.
Over the next two years further excavations took place bringing to light many other artefacts and it soon became clear that there should be some object to these and in early 1976 the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Group was formed. It was agreed that the ever expanding collection of artefacts should be displayed and the old airfield was the obvious choice of location for housing the “new” Museum. The building finally chosen was the old pilot’s flight hut which was last occupied by the local Dumfries Gliding Club which gave the building a long history in aviation. Over the remainder of the year a vast amount of memorabilia began to appear and the first complete airframes – a Vampire T11 and Meteor T7 – were acquired from the Royal Aircraft Establishment at West Freugh, an airfield 80 miles west of Dumfries near the town of Stranraer. It was decided to open to the public the following year for the summer season and so in 1977 the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum was established. The opening ceremony was conducted by Michal Cwynar DFC a Polish fighter ace who became the Museum’s patron.
In 1979, after other aircraft had been acquired namely the F-100, T-33 and Mystere, it was decided that the small amount of ground surrounding the flight hut was inadequate and it was at this time the Museum moved into the unique three story Control Tower where the Museum resides today, housing one of the best collections of memorabilia in the country. Over the years the Museum has expanded: both in the size of the collection and the area surrounding the control tower. In 2010, the museum was accredited my Museums and Galleries Scotland. In 20??, after a lengthy fundraising campaign, the museum acquired the freehold to the Control Tower and surrounding land. In 2014 the museum acquired additional land adjacent to the museum site which will be used for future expansion and improvements to the museum.
The Museum’s volunteers continuously strive to improve the museum and to ensure that the museum offers an interesting and enjoyable day out for all the family. We hope to see you soon.