Historic aircraft returns home to Prestwick for Ayr 800

From: Fame Publicity Services
Published: Mon Jun 20 2005

THE NEXT event in Ayr 800 – the year-long calendar of activities to mark the 800th anniversary this year of Ayr being granted Royal Burgh status – will be a celebration of an important date in Ayrshire’s history that takes place on Saturday 25 June to mark the golden jubilee of the first flight of the Twin Pioneer airliner in 1955.

The 16-passenger Twin Pioneer was designed and built at the Scottish Aviation factory at Prestwick Airport with a requirement to have short take-off and landing characteristics, so that it could be used in remote parts of the world with small and very basic airfield facilities.

Some of the stories covering the design and operation of Twin Pioneers in civil and RAF service will be recounted at a conference on the aircraft to be held at the Marine Hotel in Troon on 25 June, the 50th anniversary date.

The anniversary weekend will also be marked by the return of a Twin Pioneer to Prestwick Airport.

It is scheduled to touch down at Prestwick Airport at 1600 hours on Friday 24 June 2005.

Owned by Air Atlantique of Coventry and the sole operational example in the world, Twin Pioneer G-APRS will offer historic pleasure flights on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June, from Orangefield, off Monkton Road, Prestwick.

The Twin Pioneer had its origin in the smaller Prestwick Pioneer designed to an Air Ministry requirement for a single-engine communications aircraft able to operate from confined landing strips.

First flown in 1947, and in its developed Mark 2 form in 1950, the Prestwick Pioneer became famous for its ability to fly at very low speed and for demonstrations of its very short take-off and landing runs. This performance was due in large measure to the high lift devices, the flaps and slats, with which its wings were fitted.

It was in Malaya that the unique characteristics of the Pioneer were first put to great use by our armed services in the campaign against communist guerrillas, acting in a supply role to jungle forts with only tiny airstrips in the middle of dense jungle.

So effective was the four-passenger Prestwick Pioneer that a need for a larger aircraft with similar performance became apparent, and design work was put in hand by Scottish Aviation on the twin-engine aircraft that became the 16-passenger Twin Pioneer, later nicknamed the "Twin Pin".

To give the necessary short take-off and landing characteristics the wings of the Twin Pioneer were fitted with the same flap and slat high lift devices as the Prestwick Pioneer.

The prototype of the new aircraft made its first flight from Prestwick Airport on 25 June 1955. By the time production ceased in 1962, 87 Twin Pioneers had been built, finding their way into civilian and military service and operating in most continents of the world.

Like their smaller sisters the Prestwick Pioneers, Twin Pioneers were put to work in Malaya by the RAF and also the Royal Malaysian Air Force. Other tours of military duty for the Twin Pins were in the baking hot desert area round Aden and in various parts of Africa, equipped to carry out many different roles though acting mainly as a light transport.

Civilian aircraft operated in many countries - including Australia, Kuwait, Indonesia, Borneo, Iran, Iraq, Canada, Nepal, Morocco and Sierra Leone, and some Twins even ended up in Vietnam and Cambodia.

One of the most interesting aircraft was G-AOER fitted with large wing-tip magnetometers and a large camera hatch for the Rio Tinto geophysical survey. The last major operator of the Twin Pioneer, Flight One, used them in the surveying role until 1991.

More than nine Twin Pioneers still exist, probably the most important being G-APRS still earning its keep with Air Atlantique as the only flying example in the world.

Permanently in Scotland, the former Flight One Twin Pioneer G-BBVF is displayed at the Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield east of Edinburgh.

At the RAF Museum at Cosford west of Birmingham one of the ex-78 Squadron machines is currently in storage, pending construction of a new display building.

Of the other remaining Twin Pins, two are in museums in Malaysia, two are in more or less airworthy condition in Australia, with a third under restoration for the Australian Aviation Museum, and one is in Switzerland.

And one even turned up in Baghdad at the end of the recent Iraq war!

In its 70-year history, the aircraft factory at Prestwick Airport has sent over one thousand new aircraft of five different types into the skies - the Prestwick Pioneers, Twin Pioneers, Bulldogs, and most recently the Jetstreams.

It is a remarkable aviation heritage to which the Twin Pioneer made a significant contribution. The weekend of 25 June will be a unique occasion to hear about the Twin Pioneer, to see it in the skies, and even to fly in it.

The Twin Pioneer conference and the visit by G-APRS to Prestwick have been arranged by the Prestwick Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society. The Prestwick Branch of the Society is greatly indebted to Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, Air BP and South Ayrshire Council for their support towards bringing the Twin Pioneer back to Prestwick for the anniversary weekend.

Pleasure flight departures will be from near McIntyre Avenue, Orangefield, approached from Monkton Road, Prestwick. For advance bookings for flights (price £50 per person) phone Air Atlantique on 08703 304747. For further local information on the Twin Pioneer conference in Troon or on flights phone 01292 477796 or 01292 476032.


Media enquiries: Quentin Wilson, Secretary of the Prestwick Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Telephone 01292 477796 or e-mail quentin.wilson@btopenworld.com



About Ayr 800

In 2005 the historic town of Ayr in Scotland marks the 800th anniversary of King William the Lion of Scotland signing a Charter in 1205 proclaiming Ayr to be a Royal Burgh.

Ayr Guildry, an association of local business people which itself dates back to 1325, is currently organising Ayr 800, a 12 month long calendar of events to celebrate the anniversary throughout the year.

Brian Martin of Ayr Guildry said: "It seems fitting and appropriate to celebrate 800 years of Ayr’s history in as many different ways as possible.

"Since the inception of this project, I have been amazed to discover the number and diversity of clubs, associations and groups that flourish in our town. Ayr 800 provides them all with a magnificent opportunity to play a prominent part in our year of celebrations.

"For people and businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry, Ayr 800 offers the chance to attract visitors who might otherwise not have come to our town in 2005.

"And Ayr 800 provides an additional platform for local businesses to promote their products, skills and services to the world."

Brian Martin concluded: "Regular updates to the calendar of events will be posted on the Ayr 800 website at http://www.ayr800.co.uk

"All businesses, clubs, societies and individuals who would still like to take part in this great celebration of our town’s history will be most welcome, and should get in touch with us as soon as possible."


Brian Martin, Ayr Guildry. Telephone: +44 (0)1292 442103.
John Hay, Clerk to Ayr Guildry. Telephone: +44 (0)1292 264091.


Issued on behalf of Ayr Guildry by Fame Publicity Services.

Media enquiries (including evenings and weekends):

Murdoch MacDonald
Fame Publicity Services
10 Miller Road
AYR, Ayrshire
Scotland KA7 2AY

Telephone: +44 (0)1292 281498

Mobile: 07833 667322.

E-mail: famepublicity@aol.com

Website: http://www.famepublicity.co.uk

Company: Fame Publicity Services
Contact Name: Murdoch MacDonald
Contact Email: famepublicity@aol.com
Contact Phone: 01292 281498

Visit website »