In the early 1970’s it became popular to try and recover wreckage of aircraft from World War Two crash sites, a process which became known as ‘aircraft archaeology’. Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Group was formed in 1976 with this new hobby at its core, and the group excavated several wrecks in the local area.
Before long, the question arose as to what to do with these artefacts that were being recovered, and the nucleus of our museum was born. The group first moved into the former pilots’ flight hut, situated just a few hundred yards north east of the museum. This building was renovated and the group assembled its treasures and opened to the public in 1977. Our first aircraft, a Vampire and our Meteor, were donated to the group later that year.
It quickly became apparent that the hut was too small and soon the group signed the lease on the derelict control tower. Used as a shelter for cows for many years it was three feet deep in dung on the ground floor. Ever enterprising, the group bagged and sold this to local gardeners and used the proceeds to repair the windows in the tower. The museum was moved into the tower and it was opened to the public in 1979.
Over the next 25 years the museum continued to acquire aircraft and exhibits both large and small, with hundreds of donations being made by members of the public bringing in objects to add to our collection. The rented site was extended several times to accommodate aircraft, temporary buildings, and an enlarged car park. However, in 2006 we received word that our landlords had changed and that our rent would increase dramatically. After some persuasion they agreed that they would sell us the land we occupied, something the original landowner would not consider.
A huge fundraising drive involving many events, donations, external funding and an amazing £40,000 from local people meant that in 2013 we were able to complete the purchase of the site, and in 2014 we extended it with further land purchased from Scottish Enterprise. In 2010 we became an accredited museum, which meant we operate to professional standards.
Our Big Build project commenced in 2015, and to date six new buildings have been erected by our volunteers, including a hangar for our Loch Doon Spitfire. This aircraft had been recovered from Loch Doon in 1982 and was finally unveiled to the public in 2018 – just one of the jewels in our collection.
From the very start our museum has always been entirely run and operated by volunteers with a passion for historic aviation. We have great plans for the future and are as enthusiastic today as we were in 1976.
We hope you enjoy visiting our museum and look forward to welcoming you.