History of Prestwick Airport – Dougal McIntyre 21 April 2015
Dougal McIntyre delivered a very interesting presentation on the history of Prestwick Airport from its inception in the 1930’s to the present day. Dougal’s family has long been associated with the Airport, his father David F McIntyre was involved in the famous flight over Everest in 1933 thereafter he and Lord Clydesdale began the steady development of Prestwick Airport including a flying training school for Tiger Moths opening in 1936 and the “Palace of Engineering” building from the 1938 Empire Exhibition being moved on site in 1940.
Mr McIntyre cleverly interwove his own family’s history in the aviation industry with that of the airport, his father having founded both Scottish Airlines and Scottish Aviation. He described the airport’s history from its early days as a grass runway and flying training school in the pre war years through to its military uses during and after the war.
During the war years the airport facilities were used for the repair and in some cases modification of planes, spitfires in particular. He emphasised the importance of the airport at this time pointing out that around 300 aircraft could pass through in a period of 24 hours. Shortly after the war the airport was nationalised and operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), his father’s airline was also affected by nationalisation with the inception of BOAC and BEA.
Other landmarks in the post war years included the Scottish Aviation designed Prestwick Pioneer five seater airplane followed by the Twin Pioneer. The airport continued to develop and the terminal building we have today was constructed in 1964 together with a runway extension.
Bringing the story up-to-date the US presence in the area ended in 1985, whilst the British Aerospace training college operated for around 10 years from 1988. The airport, under the ownership of Infratil, who of course sold recently to the Scottish Government, continued to develop as a maintenance and cargo hub through companies such as Polar Air and Ryanair
Dougal briefly looked to the future, in particular the Prestwick Spaceport project which is being promoted by his son Stuart McIntyre making the tagline “First Everest – Now Space” all the more appropriate.
The vote of thanks was given by Kenneth Dickie.